Provogue – 2018
11 tracks; 46 minutes
Texan Lance Lopez has established himself as a heavyweight blues-rock guitarist, both under his own name and with Supersonic Blues Machine. On this disc Lance handles the lead guitar and vocals with ever-present bassist (and fellow SBM member) Fabrizio Grossi who produced and recorded the album over three years in LA. That extended time period may explain the wide range of support musicians: drums are by Wes Little, Tony Morra and Brian Burdwell, keys by Eric ‘Scorch’ Scortia, Phil Parlapiano and Sam Lustig, harmonica by Frank LaTorre, Jimmy Z Zavala and Chris Hansen, slide guitar is added by Chuck Kavooras and acoustic guitar by Joey Sykes; backing vocals come from Lance, Francis Benitez, Andrea Sophie Grossi-Benitez, Serge Simie and Kayla Reeves. Lance had a hand in six songs with contributions from Joey, Serge, Fabrizio, Eric, Don Rollins and Marcel Chagnon and there are two songs from outside the band and its direct associates.
Lance’s gruff vocal style suits the generally hard-rocking nature of most of the material. Joey and Marcel’s “Raise Some Hell” has something of a change of pace with Joey’s acoustic guitar and some reflective lyrics about life’s struggles. More typical is the wah-wah driven “Angel Eyes Of Blue” which is as heavy as blues-rock gets without crossing into Metal and several songs here are rockers which will please fans of that brand of rock that contains just enough blues DNA for the rest of us blues fans to recognize where the music has its roots. The frantic rocker “Back On The Highway” should get you moving as Lance and slide player Chuck trade licks over pounding piano and the title track closes the album with something of a Deep Purple vibe.
The album’s only really melodic moment comes on the ballad “Blue Moon Rising” with some nicely restrained slide work from Chuck Kavooras. Elsewhere “Down To One Bar” stomps along with plenty of good keyboard work from Sam Lustig but the pick of the rockers for this reviewer was Lance’s “Cash My Check” which has a bit of everything – piano, harp and slide – in the mix behind Lance’s vocal and centerpiece solo.
The two covers come at the start of the album: the first verse of David Grissom’s “Never Came Easy To Me” sounds like a vintage recording from the 1920’s with background noise, acoustic guitar and Lance’s distorted vocal but things settle into more familiar territory as the band comes in with heavy bass and harp behind Lance’s torrid slide; John Lee Hooker’s “Mr Lucky” has Jimmy Z Zavala’s harp and Lance double-tracked on guitars.
This is a disc that fans of the rockier end of the blues-rock spectrum should enjoy.