Alex Lopez sends a letter Yours Truly Me…

Born in Cleveland, now Florida based, guitarist Alex Lopez has recently released his fourth album called Yours Truly, Me… He started out playing keyboards but was smitten by the guitar sounds of the British blues bands and took to that instrument instead. That is good news for guitar lovers everywhere as influenced by the likes of Clapton and Hendrix, it means we get another blues-rock fuelled album from a master of the fretboard. It has shades of other genres behind the blues with hints of jazz, R’n’B and even the odd Latin flavour showing through but it is primarily a blues album with weight and craftsmanship woven through the eleven originals (some are updates of previous songs, hence the ‘redux’ suffix on some of them) plus a brave cover of the ZZ Top classic, Tush.

Listening to this work, I am guessing the title is a reflection of the approach he has taken and that the album is a collection that he simply wants to share with us. Opening with Woe Is Me, we get a funky blues riff with excellent backing from the band. It’s an infectious song with a story most of us will relate to and a solo that is short and sweet with neat picking and an incongruous run…the nearest comparison is Stevie Salas on the Colorcode album but with added keys. Next is that cover…he takes Tush and funks it up with keys and horns and adds a staccato approach to the verses and (dare I say it) makes it more varied and at least as good as the original…his vocal is superb as the guitar and the marvellous organ solos make it even more hedonistic too! Take Me Back Home (Redux) has lovely slide driven acoustic, backing the almost country vocal melody and manages to keep that after the band and the electric join in on a slow blues song that builds, via neat piano, plus a swirling Hammond solo and only lacked a slide solo to make it even better.  I’m A Working Man is more funky blues with a combination riff that works and again brings Salas to mind. The Hammond features with a great solo that leads into a stop/start backing and, at last, a guitar solo that shows how nimble Alex is…guess what? Too short! I’m A Losing It (Redux) is a funk/soul/blues hybrid that gets the foot tapping and supplies two wonderfully crafted solos.

I Love You Blues (Redux) is an electric blues ballad with soulful vocals over a clever and subtle piano backing. The guitar solo is suitably sorrowful and picked with clarity and thought. I Can’t Stop (Redux) is rock ‘n’ roll that could have been written in the late 50s and channels a Chicago sound perfectly. OK, it sounds like quite a few of that ilk but it has an edge courtesy of the guitar and Hammond solos that are in keeping but bang up to date. I Will Miss You has obvious inspiration from Clapton as the sentimentality and guitar prowess show the source. It’s saved from mawkishness by the clever piano/guitar interplay and a short piano and emotion-drenched guitar solo. Chase My Blues Away surprises as it shifts into acoustic for a minute and a half…the guitar and piano are exquisite but I can’t help feeling that this would have been a better interlude if it had been an instrumental that developed on the instrumentation. All I Really Want Is You is a bit poppy for me and the Latin flavour that seems to be there results in a “meh” moment for me…the guitar is still worth listening to as the solo does some neat things with the melodies. Sinful is a highlight because of the story that Elle Carr adds a brighter and yet dirty edge to. This is a slow, bluesy showpiece and seems to have inspired Alex to turn in a solo of invention and quality as does Kenny on the Hammond. Cheating Blues (Redux) closes the album back in Chicago with a song that would grace any raucous party…a Berry intro but with slide and then horny horns build an irresistible rhythm before the Hammond solos provide depth and the guitar tempts with lovely slide and then cheats the blues, as the solo doesn’t materialise.

This is an enjoyable album that will have variation and skill to keep the ears engaged and repeated listens will also reveal the quality in the band behind Alex. It may not be new, it may not set the world on fire but it will always be welcomed on my playlists.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. Woe Is Me
  2. Tush
  3. Take Me Back Home (Redux)
  4. I’m A Working Man
  5. I’m A Losing It (Redux)
  6. I Love You Blues (Redux)
  7. I Can’t Stop (Redux)
  8. I Will Miss You
  9. Chase My Blues Away
  10. All I Really Want Is You
  11. Sinful
  12. Cheating Blues (Redux)

Musicians:

Alex Lopez: guitar, vocals

Kenny Hoye: keyboards

Steve Roberts: bass

David Nunez: drums

Elle Carr: vocals on Sinful

Carlos Ortiz, Jule Boyer: horns

(The iTunes run on track this time delivered the wonderful Alexis Korner (the man who helped so many musicians find their way) and the classic I Got My Mojo Working.)
Alex Lopez sends a letter  Yours Truly Me…

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