Christian Lopez Band - 'Onward' (Blaster Records) by Michael Verity
Nineteen year old singer and songwriter Christian Lopez opens his debut long player with a narrative that’s wise well beyond his years. “You took my photo this morning, pushed off my hair in the way, prohibited smile, wasting awhile, while plotting my get away,” he sings on ‘Take You Away,’ a slow cooking ballad with rich piano, subtle banjo lines and a boldly emotional vocal delivery. ‘Don’t Know How’ is an uptempo, heartland rocker with a catchy, singalong chorus. ‘Morning Rise’ reigns in the tempo a touch but still cooks along behind some tasteful brushwork and nice snare licks from drummer Chris Powell. ‘Stay With You’ has a big waltzy feel; ‘Will I See You Again’ melds Virginia country stomp with a melody reminiscent of The Beatles. ‘7 Years’ feels like a classic 70s Colorado ballad before Lopez and company hold their cards close to the vest with the slow rock and blues of ‘Pick Me Up.’ ‘Oh Those Tombs’ is a clever country toss away a la New Riders of The Purple Sage.
The closing tune, ‘Goodbye,’ is in the running for prettiest song of the year, a beautiful ballad with an astoundingly sweet string arrangement. The influences here are evident -- heartland rock, Jackson Browne, Seth Avett, a little 70s pop -- and the result is heartfelt and pure, similar in many ways to the criminally underrated Texas troubadour Dana Cooper.
There are guys twice Lopez’ age making records that are only half as good. Preternaturally wise and notably talented, this is a kid to watch. (by Michael Verity)
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