An eminent silence soon gives way to the sturdiest of beats in the opening bars of Alex Lopez’s “Train,” a would-be lead single from his new album Looking for a Change, but the conceptual nature of this opening track doesn’t completely encapsulate the unpredictable feel of what the following songs will offer. There’s a clandestine pop sensibility buried within the blues guitar bones of this single, much like its counterpart in the bold title track and the rather magnetizing crossover “Whiskey Covered Woman,” but it’s not rooted in the post-blues a lot of other artists and bands are utilizing in their music right now. It’s almost childlike in its simplicity and the way it’s being presented here, luring us deeper into the vulnerable subtext of the lyrics and music as only a player of Lopez’s immense skill could.
“Blues They Rock” has the most conventional cosmetic disposition of any song in the first half of Looking for a Change, but its gliding groove and effervescent harmonies don’t limit the rather experimental stylization of the lyrics here at all. Lopez has a very acerbic mentality from the time we first encounter his voice in “Train” well through the duration of the tracklist, but he does allow himself to get a little surreal in his internal thoughts via “Spanish Blues,” one of my favorite songs on the album.
There’s no rigidity in the construction of this piece; there’s just emotion specifically as we would find it unfiltered and ready to bring us into the heart of he who bears it.
“Tell Me” flirts with some fairly experimental parameters in the style of something we might have heard out of the country scene just a decade ago, from a compositional angle at the very least, but its atmospheric melodies are what tether it to the uniquely Alex Lopez sound fans are more than well-versed in by now. “Wild as the Wind” and “She” are conceptually and sonically inseparable, the yin to the other’s yang and much the foundation for the progressive energy we find in Looking for a Change’s latter act. There’s not a lot of theatric dribble getting into the music, but there’s no denying the epic sense of justice this ax man wields when he’s describing the evening of a playing field so vividly with his metaphorical fretwork.
While Looking for a Change ends on a very emotive note with the daring “Night Closing In” and a rousing take on “Politician,” I don’t think its story is purely for those who are feeling vulnerable this fall. Contrarily, there’s a lot of comfort in the rhythm of this music that you don’t hear in a lot of records solely because of an artist’s unwillingness to get this personal, which isn’t a problem for Alex Lopez. He goes there in this LP, stressing no element of vanity and presenting us with everything his sound can consist of when he’s on his own, and from where I sit his efforts have resulted in an album far more complete and thought-provoking than anything he had recorded prior.