Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lance Lopez - Tell The Truth - An early contender in its class for 2018

Lance Lopez overwhelmingly succeeds in his quest to bring sizzling blues rock to the masses once again with his latest full length release, Tell The Truth, currently out on Mascot Label Group.

Tell The Truth is that rarest of beasts, a well thought out blues rock record. In a genre which can become stiflingly repetitive, Lopez, along with producer Fabrizio Grossi, avoid the usual pitfalls by bringing to the forefront some elements too often found absent in so many youthful displays of six string exuberance common to the breed.

This is apparent right out of the shoot as "Never Came Easy" starts off the proceedings with a dropped D tuned acoustic guitar and an effected vocal that sounds as close to Nashville as it does to Texas, but where you would imagine the song would then kick off into the predictable guitar histrionics, a sultry electric piano that sounds as if it just found its way out of 1973 and a growling, throbbing, greasy bass line come in to accompany Lopez's gritty vocals. This song set is strongly autobiographical, and when Lopez breaks into his silky slide guitar solo the soulful background vocals paint the picture to great effect. Song based blues rock - Lopez hits the nail on the head, and he keeps it between the ditches for the entire ride.

Don't get me wrong, there is more than enough evidence on hand that confirms Lopez to be the bonafide guitar hero who's earned the praise of such legendary notables as Jeff Beck, and his big-brother figure and occasional dance partner, Billy Gibbons, but after twenty years and a great many studio albums, Lopez has learned that you don't have to shove your guitar into every available crevice at every opportunity. The stunning chops, the taste, and attention to tones are only amplified by their judicious use.

This is an album that confidently straddles the line between the blues and its harder rock leanings, and it is all tied together with a heathy dose of the American south in both sound and prose. Lyrically, Lopez sticks to a very middle-class, workingman's view to the world, focusing on the perils of the life of the road warrior.

"Mr. Lucky" is, indeed, the John Lee Hooker classic, and this sees the album in its most reverential moments as Lopez's guitar licks dance devilishly with some wicked harmonica howlings as the rhythm section clears a path you could drive a tank through. You never get that all-too-pervasive sense of the usual blues rock "it's all about the boss" vibe - this sounds like a band, and everyone is pushing equally hard, and digging in on every beat and measure.

Fans of Lance Lopez knows of his love for the British masters of early blues rock, and cuts like "Tell The Truth" and "Angel Eyes Of Blue" provide ample evidence that this axe slinger gets it. It's not just the gut wrenching, overdriven riffage, it's also the funkiness that Lopez has so aptly picked up on. It's dirty, and it's nasty, but it swings, and that makes all the difference in the world.

"Cash My Check" catches that British sound superbly with honky-tonk keyboards that make me miss Ian McLagen like mad, and a very Stonesy vibe that marries perfectly with the song's steeped in southern rock melody and vocals. "Blue Moon Rising" is another soul soaked number that slows things down substantially, and is perhaps the most radio ready cut on the album. The guitars are evokative and emotional on this one, and much beauty can be found in the sultry slide licks that set the stage for an epic chorus-drenched solo that takes the tune up a good notch before easing into some soul sacrificial vocalizing that takes the song out.

Tell The Truth is a new high water mark in the career of Lance Lopez, who, after two strong records with Supersonic Blues Machine, keeps the momentum going ever upward, and this will be the blues rock album to beat in 2018.


No comments: