American songwriter and guitarist Steve Purcell has released his debut solo disc. It’s titled Ample’tudes. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Purcell is reported to be a direct descendant of famous English composer Henry Purcell whose version of Baroque music helped make him one of the greatest English composers. On his official website, Steve Purcell spoke of his history with music. He said:
“I’ve been involved in the music business from a young age performing, writing, recording, publishing, teaching, studio work, etc. I also [give private] professional guitar / mandolin / bass lessons [in person] and via Skype. For years, as a professional guitar player and session player based out of Nashville, I’ve been on the road in the bands of many major & indie label country & rock artists.”
Purcell added: “I’ve played with, or shared the stage with, many national acts, such as Foghat, Montgomery Gentry, Night Ranger, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Skid Row, Mark Chesnutt, Darryl Worley, Asia, Little Big Town, Pat Travers, Trace Atkins, Mark Wills, David Lee Murphy, Marty Stuart, David Allan Coe, Craig Morgan, Big & Rich, Hank Williams Jr., Chad Brock, The Outlaws, Trini Triggs, Celinda Pink, Jeff Bates, Sawyer Brown, and many more.” Purcell, who has also played with the Ron Keel Band, recently decided it was time to showcase his talents with a guitar-based solo album. Thus, his debut solo CD, Ample’tudes, was born.
Steve Purcell’s signature sound is a surprisingly fluid mix of music genres including bluegrass, country, heavy metal, jazz, pop, and rock ‘n’ roll. He is influenced by numerous artists with whom he has shared a stage including (but not necessarily limited to) Kiss’ Paul Stanley, Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, Pat Travers, and The Outlaws, On this album, he tends to focus on a different genre with each cut.
This new release features 10 tracks. Purcell leads the way on guitar, bass, and lead vocals. He is assisted by an assortment of other artists including Dave Gant (Garth Brooks) on Hammond, Wurlitzer and B3 organ, Ron Keel (Steeler, KEEL, Black Sabbath) vocals, Electric Guitar Eugene Moles (Buck Owens) on electric guitar, Zach Ballard (Jasmine Cain, Tony Harnell) on drums, Ronnie Lutrick (Johnny Hiland, Del Reeves) on bass, Evan Christopher (Circle ll Circle) on electric guitar, and Randy Kohrs (John Fogerty) on dobro. There’s also Brandon Ahlheit on shaker, drums, and percussion, Tim Crouch on djembe, fiddle, mandolin and bass, Mickey Justice on bouzouki and mandolin, Lynn Cooper on bass, percussion, and radio programming, Wendy Burns on backing and harmony vocals, Janet Cooper on harmony vocals, and Eddie Thompson on vocals.
Track by Track
The album opener is “Hammer Down.” It grabs your attention almost immediately with motorcycle sound effects and crowd noise to set the scene. It’s a high energy instrumental rock track with a strong melody to boot.
“Rattlesnake Road” follows. The guitar rattles on this old school western/surf music, arpeggio-infected instrumental. It’s not overly surprising in presentation but it works well. Complete with that needle-hits-the-vinyl opening effect, it’s soundtrack-ready too.
The slowly-ringing bell that opens “Angel In Hell” may very well remind you of AC/DC. But once you hear the near-spooky fiddle and the bluegrass acoustic work, you’ll know better. It certainly is another example of what Purcell can do in terms of performing and composing.
“Retro-Radio” is an interesting aural pallet cleanser. Years ago it would’ve been labeled experimental. It’s a specific combination of brief specifically-selected audio clips that provide listeners with a bit of a breather before the other songs are introduced. If you’re old enough to remember running up and down the radio dial in search of a good station, you’ll get it.
“Mouse In The House” is an upbeat instrumental. Note the blend of both rock and country music elements here. Feel the atmosphere.
checks off the box for “requisite ballad.” It might expectantly focus on lost love but it’s nevertheless nice and even includes a bit of a pop element to it. No doubt this plays well with live audiences.
“Bits And Piece’s” has a jazzy opening and great sound effects to set both the mood and scene here. It almost has a live band feel to it that combines with the other elements to make it work.
The energetic “Messin’ With The Kid” has a late 1980s feel to it akin to something by ZZ Top. It’s highlighted by pinch harmonics and has a definite Nashville touch to it. It’s a rowdy adaptation of the classic R&B-influenced blues song first recorded by Junior Wells back in 1960.
“Skippin’ Lickin’ (aka: The Lick)” is the next number here. Purcell plays some truly chicken-pickin’ guitar here. If you like guys like Chet Atkins or Don Rich, you will understand the importance of including this cut. How better to demonstrate versatility and skill than with something like this?
The album endnote is the ballad “Don’t Say Goodbye.” It is perhaps a bit ironic as a closing cut but with a live audience, it would work well allowing an audience to infer an encore is in order. More importantly, it provides one final example of what Purcell can do as he leaves the audience wanting more.
Overall . . .
Overall, this album might be criticized by some as going off in a lot of different directions. But the fact is the variety in the material is intentional. It provides an ample overview of all Purcell’s influences and inspirations.
The album includes something for everyone and reminds the listener of Purcell’s flexibility and fluidity as an artist. It provides an assortment of audio offerings indicating the various venues in which Purcell has performed, be it a smoke-filled little club or a raucous rock concert. So check out Steve Purcell’s Ample’tudes and listen to what happens when Purcell puts the “Hammer Down.”