Cutting strings and harmonies that are the exact opposite of the pressurized nonsense you’d find almost anywhere on the commercial end of the pop music spectrum dominate the best moments contained within Looking for a Change, the new album from Alex Lopez. However they’re still not the main reason I think this record is going to take off this year.
Lopez, as a singer/songwriter with a penchant for the blues in the same way that some of the forerunners of rock n’ roll itself once were, is a poignant musician who has a lot to express whether he’s belting out a heartfelt lyric or straddling the emptiness between a bassline and the percussion, and he isn’t pulling any punches in Looking for a Change. “Spanish Blues,” “Wild as the Wind,” “Night Closing In,” and “Politician;” the names of these tracks alone would have us believe that we’re entering a remarkably introspective realm in this LP, but when consumed within a single sitting rather than across several different sit-downs with the complete album, I think they offer up one of the most cutting and honest self-portraits any indie rocker has recorded in 2023. This is a man who won’t and simply can’t withhold from us, and his new release is a testament to his condition.
Lopez’s personality is so enmeshed with that of the music that it’s a little difficult to discern where his vocal starts and the sharp discord of the strings ends in songs like “Train” and “She.” His harmonies are not nearly as delicate as some of the lyrical confessions he’s making are, but the contrast between the two components strikes out at an uneven juxtaposition that very few alternative musicians on the mainstream level have been willing to experiment with in recent memory.
The master mix spotlights an attention to detail that I’ve always been fascinated by in his music, and in the title track, “Whiskey Covered Woman,” and “Tell Me,” it’s really hard to witness this play unfold without acknowledging the intricacies Lopez so skillfully arranges to his advantage. He doesn’t need any big, imposing instrumental elements in “Blues They Rock,” “Politician,” or “Spanish Blues” – the story these songs assemble is strong on its own without the cosmetic filler to get in the way.
The scene that this man is coming out of does get a lot of love from the press, and I think that the ingenuity of players like Alex Lopez is the reason why. Listening to an album like Looking for a Change makes it obvious how integral he is to any work he’s involved in, and when left to his own devices I think it’s pretty clear he doesn’t have a hard time getting his point across to the listeners, no matter what that point might be. This is a personal record – Looking for a Change ends up feeling more bluesy than not even when it’s offering us some sizzle in songs like “Whiskey Covered Woman,” and it’s an LP I recommend listening to several times just to appreciate its luster.
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