10 tracks / 30:37
Alex Lopez figured out early on what his priorities were, and he stuck to his plan. Born in Cleveland, he took to music early on and was inspired by bands from the original British invasion. After moving to Florida, he continued to record and play out, but eventually Alex made the decision to put family first and took time off from the gigging world. During his time away he got back in touch with the blues, courtesy of guitar greats that included Buddy Guy and Albert Collins, and he wrote and recorded a lot of original material. Well, now his family is raised, and he has jumped back into the deep end of the pool with his new album, Is It a Lie.
This disc is almost an EP, coming in at around 30 minutes, but Alex managed to fit ten of his original songs on it. If you do the math, you can figure out pretty quick that there is no room for fluff; there are no endless guitar solos or choruses repeated over and over again. It must have been hard for him to resist, as Lopez is a capable behind the microphone or on the guitar. He provided all of the guitar and vocal work on this release (and was the producer, too), with John Baccoli on bass and Craig Robison behind the drum kit. Everything was put on wax over at Atomic Audio Recording in Tampa, Florida.
Alex’s voice is not what we usually hear in blues music, with his tenor range and a curious blend of smooth 50s, warbly 70s, and howling 80s blues and rock sounds. This is a good match for his guitar-driven songs, and the overall package provides a unique vibe.
Most of the album is made up of blues-rock songs, though each sounds a bit different than the others. The opener, “Can’t Hide Your Love,” has a driving beat that is reminiscent of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love.” This is followed up by “Morning Blues” which has a smooth feel and a few neat transitions when the rhythm guitar alternates between choppy and smooth phrases. The best of these is probably “Company Man” which is has equal parts of British blues-rock and funk.
There are a couple of accessible tunes that have enough pop in them that they could be radio friendly, though each of them clock in at just a touch over two minutes. “Smile at Me” is one of these, with a 50s love song feel and a touch of backing vocals. And “I Need to Know” is an upbeat song that is easy to get stuck in your head.
One of the standout songs on the album is the title track, which is labeled as a reprise even though it only appears once. “Is it a Lie” has a funky bass and drum foundation with solid rhythm guitar and killer leads, including an impressive solo. It would have been nice to get a few more minutes of this song!
Lopez interspersed a couple of acoustic songs that they serve to highlight his guitar skills. The first is “Cheatin’ Blues,” a fast-tempo tune with a fairly conventional blues construction that includes plenty of resonator guitar work. The other is the closer, “The Night is Closing In,” which is a slow and sober ballad that includes a short but tasty guitar break. This was a good choice to end the album on, sort of like a train pulling into the station at the end of a journey. It was a short journey, but Alex went to a lot of places on it!
Alex Lopez’s Is it a Lie provides fresh songwriting and musicianship in the blues-rock format. Take a listen and see if it is what you are looking for, and if you are around northern Florida head over to Alex Lopez’s website to see where he is playing next with his band, the Alex Lopez Xpress!