When you’ve got the kind of ability in music that some like Alex Lopez does, creating an underwhelming piece of material just isn’t a possibility – especially when it comes to songs like Looking for a Change’s “She.” In tracks like this one, the namesake song, and “Blues They Rock,” Lopez’s Looking for a Change presents us with a weaponized lead guitar from the noted artist and songwriter that is hardly underutilized across the whole of the LP. If anything, I think this album gives him an incredible opportunity to exploit his greatest gift more than he has previously, which is no small statement to make if you know this guy’s discography.
The melodicism in Looking for a Change comes to us at a couple of different speeds, but regardless of how hard or soft Lopez’s hooks end up being, it’s his very presence that provides us with a rare continuity I’m having a harder and harder time finding left of the dial this autumn (and really for the better part of 2023). “Whiskey Covered Woman” and “Train” are stylistic cousins if anything at all, but they don’t feel aesthetically polarizing mostly because of the way this singer draws together their most climactic moments with his seamless vocal delivery.
These lyrics are more honest than I was initially expecting, which isn’t to say that I think Alex Lopez has ever held anything back from his audience before so much as it’s acknowledging how much further he’s pushing himself in this instance. Looking for a Change’s title track feels like a diary entry stained with emotion that doesn’t normally make it onto a contemporary blues LP, and it spills into the narratives of “Spanish Blues” and “Night Closing In” as though we’re listening to a concept album rather than a rather eclectic indie rock LP.
Lopez’s humble tone as a singer is one of the greatest attributes songs like “Tell Me,” “Wild as the Wind,” and “She” have going for them, but he’s careful to avoid eclipsing the outright chills coming off of the instrumentation at the same time. He’s using rhythm to move things forward in every part of this tracklist, even when it means the absence of a logical beat (as is the case in “Whiskey Covered Woman”), which is a lot more than can be said for some of his peers, the more lauded of whom have drifted away from foundational experimentalism in the last couple of years.
I knew I was going to be pleased with what this guitarist and songwriter had stacked up for his new LP, but I can’t say that I predicted Alex Lopez brimming with unknown talents quite as much from the conceptual angle as he does in Looking for a Change. He’s got a lot of ideas that are rising to the surface beautifully in this record, and if there’s anything we can take away from these tracks, it’s that he isn’t about to turn down his ambitious side simply in the name of marching to a lucrative albeit wholly commercial beat.