Review: Eddie Roberts Stays Busy with The Lucky Strokes’ Rugged, Rocking, Southern Funk

Videos by American Songwriter

Eddie Roberts & The Lucky Strokes
Eddie Roberts & The Lucky Strokes
(Color Red)
4 out of 5 stars

Eddie Roberts is a busy guy. Not only is the UK-bred guitarist the co-originator of popular fusion/soulful jammers The New Mastersounds (now in their 25th year), but he’s also the founder of Denver’s Color Red label where he personally curates the acts signed to it. He also guests on many of that imprint’s releases.

Roberts filled his already packed schedule by connecting with Shelby Kemp, guitarist/singer for the group Royal Horses, and forming The Lucky Strokes (not to be confused with New York rockers The Strokes). They bring a taut rhythm section comprised of Florida-based sisters Ashley and Taylor Galbraith, on bass and drums respectively. Guest organist Chris Spies assists on this ripping debut.

The result combines Southern swagger (prominent on the Allman Brothers Band-inspired “Good Morning Lady,” as Roberts and Kemp trade licks reminiscent of Dickey Betts and Duane Allman) with a funky blues, riff-based approach for eight originals and a crackling take on Little Milton’s 1969 soul hit “Grits Ain’t Groceries.” Roberts handles the majority of the solos, kicking in with heavy wah-wah on the thumping “Everything I Do and Say” as Kemp churns out the lyrics—singing ‘til my face turns blue—with gutsy intensity.

The fever runs high on a spirited gospel-tinged “Holy Fire” as Roberts cranks out a rocking solo. The opening “Whiskey Makes Me Stronger” (but woman you make me weak, continues the thought) could be grabbed from an old Wet Willie album, another similarly styled outfit that successfully joined Southern rock with funk and soul influences. Both are repeated in slightly hotter live versions closing the disc.

At six minutes, the slow, swampy rumble of “Rambler” is the set’s longest and most meditative moment. It’s a message from the singer to a rambler who he tells to “just stay gone” over a guitar that twists and tumbles with an ominous bayou vibe. “Sweet Dreams” pulsating, R&B-infused ballad brings three-part harmonies to the equation, expanding the group’s sound while keeping it firmly in red clay territory.

The Lucky Strokes aren’t pushing any boundaries, but they aren’t trying to. Rather, the four-piece finds its groove and rides it for 40 pretty great minutes of bluesy roots-based rocking that feels inspired, fresh, and ready to keep Roberts even busier in 2024.     

Photo by Jason Melino 

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