In this hour special first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Pete Feenstra chats to Lance Lopez with tracks from the new album.
Provogue Records [Release date 02.03.18]
‘Tell The Truth’ is in Lance Lopez’s own words: “An honest look into my autobiographical journey”. And you don’t really have to delve into lyrics written to a biographical format to realise this powerhouse rocking blues guitarist has lived his life to the full.
Every aspect of his being is writ large in his world weary gravely vocals, which come to bear on big aching grooves and are resolved by his steely licks.
He’s has to dig deep to uncover meaningful songs relevant to an overly familiar thematic album title. But he’s smart enough to frame the songs with a broad musical sweep that encompasses, rock, blues, southern rock, British hard rock, country, ballads such as the slide-led ‘Blue Moon Rising’ and a closing slice of archetypal Texas rocking blues.
Lance Lopez is a retro tinged Texas style blues rocker, who derives his contemporaneity from an intensity that can only come from a life lived to the full.
His pro-career has been spent at the coalface, on a learning curve with the likes of Bobby Blue Bland, Johnny Guitar Watson, Lucky Peterson, Buddy Miles and even Johnny Winter.
But if you join the dots of his solo albums with the brace of higher profile releases with Supersonic Blues Machine, it’s almost as if he’s been busting his ass to earn the right to a solo career.
‘Tell The Truth’ is full of incendiary playing which supports songs with significant hooks, rather than dominates them. Above all, the album is framed by big grooves and a layered production that interweaves subtle textures with hard rocking blues, stamped through with Lopez’s signature vocal.
Vocally he’s a cross between Lemmy, Popa Chubby and Taj Mahal, as he spreads his husky phrasing over blue collar rocking blues.
Look no further than the ripping ‘Cash My Check’, the perfect meeting of lyrical angst with bone crunching rock, as he adds lashings of Johnny Winter style slide and a celebratory mid number whoop, as if to share the moment.
He’s all hard riffing piecing notes and harp on a cover of John Lee Hooker’s ‘Mr. Lucky’, which is counterbalanced by a vocal that echoes Taj Mahal on a groove laden shuffle.
The thematically titled opener ‘Never Came Easy To Me’ tells you all you need to know about the Texas styled Louisiana rocker. He leaps into a song with total commitment and a spontaneity that eschews a safety net, save for the guiding hand of producer Fabrizio Grossi.
It’s the same team of Lopez and the bass playing producer Grossi that was at the heart of The Supersonic Blues Machine. But while Lopez’s vocals and similar up-in-the-mix bv’s are an integral part of both projects, it’s his lyrical honesty and colourful textures that make this album truly his own.
‘Down To One Bar’ is an incendiary rocker which leaves plenty of room to riff and showcase his backing singers. There’s also a stuttering rhythm and southern rock feel to the self explanatory ‘High Life.’ The sudden dynamic guitar break and the dual harmony guitars reflect the equilibrium between an impassioned player and his intuitive producer.
He returns to a southern rock feel on ‘The Real Deal’, which could be Skynyrd or Skinny Molly, while the following ‘Raise Some Hell’ adds a Nashville country influence with a different vocal attack on a strong melody and catchy hook.
And just when mid-tempo vocoder-led ‘Angel Eyes of Blue’ is in danger of repeating what’s gone before, he ups his game with a Purple riff and Popa Chubby style vocal on the hard rocking ‘Back On The Highway’.
‘Tell The Truth’ lives up to its name and takes Lance Lopez up a level. It should also lead him into the vanguard of Lone Star rock-blues guitar heroes, but in his case one with a story to tell. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00
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