Lance Lopez – Tell the Truth (2018)
Though Tell the Truth in Lance Lopez’s six solo album, it is in many ways a fresh start. Hot off the heels of two albums with his work with supergroup Supersonic Blues Machine, Lopez forges ahead, breaking new ground while staying true to his blues-rock roots.
“Never Came Easy” hits the ground running. The self-penned song benefits from the sympathetic production of Supersonic Blues Machine founder Fabrizio Grossi, with its dissonant vocal entry and jangly rhythm guitar. That leads to a Fender Rhodes and bass backing, which then propels the song. Lance Lopez’s vocals have never sounded better, as they tangle with a harmonica for dominance. At the midpoint, “Never Came Easy” is further propelled by Lopez’s slide guitar solo, then back to the harmonica. The sentiment of the song is simple but reflective of the music: Hard work and toil produces great results.
“Mr. Lucky,” a John Lee Hooker cover, is full or Southern charm and Texas swagger. The lead guitar jumps out of the speakers, before Lopez’s vocals kick things a notch higher. A tight blues shuffle, “Mr. Lucky” incorporates harmonica and overdubbed rhythm guitar but leaves plenty of space to breathe, thanks to Lopez’s arrangement and Grossi’s production. “Highlife” takes a more straight-ahead rock approach. The song presents a contemporary feel, with a catchy hook and infectious groove that would have fit perfectly on any album by the late bluesman Jeff Healey.
“Cash My Check” doesn’t break new lyrical ground either, but it does present an honest look at the working man’s existence. Lance Lopez’s vocals are stellar, as he offers a lyric which seems close to his heart. The music is pulsating over a bass track which doesn’t rely on a standard blues pattern. Lopez’s initial slide solo is too brief, but it contributes to the tidier pop feel of this song and is almost as good as his fiery ending solo at the fade.
A slow-burning fuse on “The Real Deal” is lit by Lopez’s slide guitar, and multitasked rhythm guitars. The groove of the song builds towards the bridge with an intensity that meets the vocal and lyrical gravitas. Lopez’s guitar solo combines the best of blues and Southern rock. There is no doubt he keeps it real.
“Blue Moon Rising” unexpectedly slows things down. The song simmers along with a touching melodic guitar that is accented by Lopez’s slide. This Texas blues presents another high-water mark for Lopez’s vocals, which are effectively combined with the backing chorus. “Blue Moon Rising” is sonically joyous and the musical payoff. A melodic Stevie Ray Vaughan-like solo could have been left off, and the song would still have been fantastic.
Lance Lopez’s album-closing title track kicks off with an opening guitar passage that owes more to Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore than Billy Gibbons, boasting elements of rock, funk and blues. When tied to another infectious rhythm, the whole song flies. The Louisiana native’s guitar work on “Tell the Truth” includes combinations of fascinating distorted effects and shifts that will likely lead to repeated listens as fans focus simply on the solos. In fact, there are many fine musical elements in the singing and playing on this layered recording that might go unnoticed at first.
With its assessable combination of excellent guitar playing, strong vocals and deft production, Tell the Truth is a terrific addition to Lance Lopez’s catalog. He seems to have a perfect combination of blues and rock.