Hot off the Press

Lance Lopez | Handmade Music

by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer —

An inviting promise of a hearty feast of Southern rock, the first two cuts of Lance Lopez’s new album turn out to be deceptive starters. After the initial thrill the juicy, muscly guitar strutting over a life-affirming Elmore James groove on opener “Come Back Home” and the blustery locomotion of the follow-up “Hard Time”, things suddenly start sliding downhill. The intense, ballsy conviction of Lopez’s blowout blues-rock chops, his edgy guitar tone, and rocks-and-gravel voice – spot-on in its raw, swaggering intonation – are swiftly replaced by tired, done-to-death clichés interested in little apart from radio play and chart action.

The press release hails Lopez as a follower the great Texas blues tradition, but a SRV or a Billy Gibbons he is not. Although at times so close, you forget his blatant hankering after mainstream’s patronage on the mild roots-meet-pop crowd-pleasers which make up the bulk of this album. It’s not the solicitations of mainstream success, however, which place him in a different league from his legendary predecessors, nor the hurried sleekness of his practiced chops, and not even his apparent inability to take subtle liberties with the metre. It’s rather the derivative, commonplace phrasing that doesn’t let Lopez depart from what is prescribed and touch upon things which turn regular guitar players – no matter how chopsy – into unique artists.

When it’s time for the melancholy closer “Lowdown Ways”, the credit of trust is all but expired, the cut coming through more caustic than heartfelt, with Lopez’s hurried, pause-free solos further confirming that there is some rethinking to be done before continuing to refer to SRV or Hendrix as personal touchstones. But with nothing in music being strictly this or that, in the end you could still say that Lopez succeeds in his own way as a niche standard-bearer for a certain type of Americana, or that he simply is an artist who chose tradition to construct his own personal comfort zone, despite being equipped well enough to use it to discover something very personal and new.

Genre: Blue Rock, Blues, Roots

Track List:
1. Come Back Home
2. Hard Time
3. Let Go
4. Dream Away
5. Get Out And Walk
6. Your Love
7. Traveling Riverside Blues
8. Letters
9. Vaya Con Dios
10. Black Cat Moan
11. Can You Feel It
12. Lowdown Ways

Label: MIG / String Commander


Label: MIG / String Commander

Hardrock Haven rating: 5/10


12 Comments on Lance Lopez | Handmade Music

  1. Mike Beall // March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am //

    Your review if thats what you want to call it of Handmade Music is so far off. Did you just not understand that this is a Texas blues infused cd? Look maybe you should stick to what you know like a Yanni cd or maybe some John Tesh! Lance Lopez is in my opinion one of the best guitar players out there and looking at the comments in response to your idiotic review I am not alone. Keep kicking ass LL!

  2. Steviebloozeshooze // March 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm //

    I totally disagree with your review,especially putting Lance down because
    he doesn’t fit your cup of tea. His music is GREAT !!! I’ve been a fan for several years now & his CD, Handmade Music is off the hook.Do yourself a favor,go to one of his shows and you will see a show like never before! Lance plays with all his heart & soul and gives everyone 150%. Lance has had many influences in his musical career, some very notable and some obscure and that’s what makes him unique, and that’s what makes him Lance Lopez.

  3. Ella Davidson // March 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm //

    Wow…even if a reviewer doesn’t like an album, there are much more professional ways of saying so. This is just rude.

  4. Paul Carrington // March 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm //

    To me this review ended up not as an impartial critique of the album and did infact turn into a personal slur on both Lance`s playing abilities and his musical tastes.I get the feeling this reviewer is so out of touch that she`d probably describe Tony Iommi as `an ok guitar player`. or may even go as far as saying Angus Young`s songs `All sound the same`….Not a good advert for her company and IMO her editor should be having words with her

  5. Colin Campbell, Liverpool.. // March 15, 2012 at 2:28 pm //

    Sounds like after the second song you decided you had enough already.. What makes me angry is that people get paid to make an opinion after one spin of a disc.. Then its easy street, nit pick the songs, the playing, the production, the influences, why not the plastic disc holder while you’re at it??

    I just want to say that Lance Lopez doesnt need any guidance on which way to go, he is his own free man.. He will play what feels right to him and will constantly learn from his past masters, living or deceased.. What makes him different from some players is this.. He is approachable, sincere, will never give less than 110% when performing and will never bow down to critics..

    Yes you are entitled to your opinion but its such a laughable review that its not worth reading twice.. I ask of you this, go and see him LIVE and tell him straight that you slated the album.. His response wont be of anger but he’ll give you one of the finest guitar nights you will see for a long time..

    Support live music because thats where its truly at, not behind a keyboard..

    Colin Campbell, Liverpool, UK…

  6. zangus5150 // March 15, 2012 at 9:19 am //

    Dear Publisher,
    You seem to run a very well-informed site here. And I thoroughly enjoyed the reviewers pieces on the new John5 album and the Hendrix box set. However, she clearly has little knowledge of the Blues/Rock genre and should stick to reviewing what she knows. I wouldn’t be uttering a word if the review was done well, but an opinion isn’t worth jack when none of your facts are correct and the reviewer CLEARLY did little to no research on Lopez at all. Also, this ‘fan backlash’ should have been expected since on social network sites such as Facebook, Lance’s fan base exceeds your own by nearly 7000.

    And while on the subject of Facebook, it would be a good idea to inform your contributing writers that making negative comments on their personal Facebook accounts about an artist they are doing a “Professional” review on is clearly in bad taste:

    ALISSA ORDABAI – MARCH 7 at 6:34pm – “I’m in the middle of reviewing this new Texan blues prodigy, a lame copy of SRV who doesn’t know when to stop showing off his chops…funny how people can have the sleekest, fastest chops and still sound like amateurs”

    Like I stated earlier, I realize a cd review is a personal opinion, but when you base your review on what you ‘wanted’ to hear instead of what you ‘did’ hear, with no knowledge of said artists career….wow. Just for reference, heres some opinions that have a little more weight:

    “Texas has been known to be the breeding ground for some of the baddest guitar players of all time…Lance is yet another one to carry on that Texas tradition” – BILLY F. GIBBONS – ZZ TOP

    “A very exciting and intense blues guitarist” – JEFF BECK

    “Lance got 3 standing ovations when he opened a show for me and I was among those standing” – B.B.KING

    “When we were onstage together I get chills because Lance reminds me of someone I used to play with a long time ago” – BUDDY MILES – BAND OF GYPSYS

  7. Hey all … appreciate everyone participating in the discussion … you don’t agree with the review or the reviewer, fine … but please lay off the cussing and hateful comments … or I will turn the comments off … keep it clean and objective …

    The Publisher

  8. Fishnuts // March 15, 2012 at 8:08 am //

    Well I just have to say: if this “critic” dislikes Handmade Music by Lance Lopez, exactly what in the Fk do you like? I guess you have to be a typical cookie cutter Bluesman to get respect.
    Terrible review by a closed minded stupid *** that obviously has their nose up their own ass.

  9. sepulturist_069 // March 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm //

    picked this one up the day it was released….its KILLER!!! Saw Lance for the first time a few years ago with Eric Gales (another badass) and he was absolutely jaw-dropping!!! Ive been a die-hard ever since! Lance ain’t some cookie-cutter SRV wanna-be, hes been knocking people out for years with his unique blend of style and fire….hes got the feel, hes got one of the BADDEST tones Ive ever heard and when called upon to shred….MAN!!! The dude is a BEAST!!! I normally dig the reviews here but this one missed the mark.

  10. tobias_messiah // March 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm //

    I call **** on this one! Lance is amazing!!! I’ve been hooked since “Simplify Your Vision” back in 2006 – I’ve seen him live many times, often jamming with dudes like Bonamassa, Andy Timmons, and he always floors people. Dude is the real deal. I’ve only heard a couple tunes off this newest one but from what I heard it smokes!

  11. kinkydavey // March 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm //

    Wow….totally disagree with the review…..this CD rocks! Lance ha sbeen tearing it up for years! I always dig his albums! great guitar player for sure…better than most out there nowadays.

  12. zangus5150 // March 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm //

    This is one pathetic excuse for a CD review. It makes no sense why someone with zero knowledge about a particular artist would even attempt to write a review on said artist’s new album. On top of that, the review is based on disliking the album for what it WASN’T rather than reviewing it for what it WAS/IS. Lopez has been a staple in the Texas Blues/Rock scene for over a decade and has had players like Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, and Steve Vai rant and rave over his talent.

    I can take an opinion, whether I agree with it or not….but this review is just downright dumb. The opening 2 tracks are ballsy and edgy then it goes downhill??? “Black Cat Moan”, “Traveling Riverside Blues” and “Can’t You Feel It” are as groove heavy and nasty as both said tracks. You complain about his non-stop phrasing in “Lowdown Ways” yet you mention nothing about the melodic tasteful lines in “Dream Away” and “Let Go”……odd?!?

    Basically you dogged Lopez for not sticking to the KWS formula of blatant SRV grave-robbing or having a wannabe SRV tone….and apparently the fact that the album isn’t 12 tracks of the same derivative material and that it actually touches on many different feels and styles is a BAD THING. Guess versatility doesn’t go far with you…..odd?!?

    So in short, it doesnt rock enough, its too diverse, and if you come from Texas you have to play/sound/dress like either Stevie Ray or Willy G or else you shouldn’t even mention them as influences. Suggestion: Actually take the time to research the artist you review….maybe perhaps listen to any of the albums he’s released in the past DECADE for starters….what you were apparently ‘wanting to hear’ on this disc….he’s been doing since 99′

    Anyway, in closing….You might oughta turn the negative comments you made in your “professional review” around on your own journalistic attempt. It had about as much integrity as RollingStone reviewing a metal album. Fail.

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