Taking time for stray observations, American troubadour finds a new spring in his step.
“I’m feeling kind of dangerous”: there’s a perfect mix of uncertainty and self-assurance in the opening line of Alex Lopez’s third album that finds the Cleveland-born and Tampa-based artist torn between raw blues and polished pop music. Likable to bits, he may occasionally lapse into mimicking his chosen genre’s trailblazers, as illustrated by a Gary Moore-ish ballad “Stolen” which should reach vertiginous heights on-stage, yet Lopez’s original pieces are often irresistibly arresting. The tangle of slider lines in “Words Of Wisdom” chasing a jagged riff to the point where a country route ends in swamp may be the best testament to this – as well as a reflection of Alex’s personal path, geography-wise.
It’s hard to get away from the ragged, organ-oiled groove of “Dangerous” whose punchy, muscular menace and vulnerable, laid-back voice create almost orchestral tension and contrast. More so, it’s impossible to shake off, although funk is all about shaking it, but when Alex’s axe comes out of a solo flight the release is finally revealed – and then fed into the brass-smeared title track. Here, slowing down means getting into one’s soul; this is why the boogie likes of “I Don’t Know” feel rather superficial while the prayer driving “Redeem Me” to a glitterball absolution has turned out most memorable.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Lopez embraces extremes on bonus cuts – exquisite serenade “Dance The Night With Me” and belligerent rockabilly “War Without A Face” – yet they can’t surpass the scope of “Exodus” as this piece’s electric rise is tempered with acoustic, flamenco-like lace which would unfold into soft folk of “Long Long Time” – sweet, if anxious, letting Alex’s tremulous vocals flutter and soar. That is the whole point of changing a pace: to reach out for another perspective and possess it, something that “Slow Down” has accomplished with much gusto.