Alex Lopez’s “Nasty Crime”
Rhythm is the starting point for every great blues jam, and listening to a song like Alex Lopez’s “No Way” makes this impossible for any listener to deny. The new album Nasty Crime is filled with strutting numbers like this one, and while there’s nothing wrong with giving a stock beat behind the colorful guitar work that Lopez is dishing up in the tracklist, his desire to go outside of the boundaries a lot of his contemporaries stick within is charming, to say the least. From the grooving to the grandiose melodicism you’re going to hear in every one of these songs, Nasty Crime is a fetching listen no matter what kind of blue mood you’re in.
Lyrically, Lopez has always been someone who likes to dabble in the cerebral without getting particularly surreal, which isn’t all that easy when you think about it. Developing a singular theme for the progressive tone in Nasty Crime seems at first just a bit theatrical for this genre, and yet it works so well for the fluidity of “Just Wait,” “I Don’t Care,” and “When the Sun Goes Down,” which I would recommend listening to as a trio in any situation. This is a tough LP to put down once you give it a shot, and that stands whether you’re a conventional blues lover or not.
Tonality is the foundation of brilliant guitar play, and we’re given a whole lot of muscle worth cranking up in the title cut, “Holy Woman,” and “That’s Alright,” all of which anchor some of the best moments to hear in Nasty Crime. While I would have cleared out a little more room on the backend of “That’s Alright,” the rest of these songs meld balance with buoyant hooks rather seamlessly, which isn’t true for a lot of the records I’ve been listening to this July.
Structure doesn’t appear to be as important to Lopez as execution is, but this doesn’t result in a sloppiness indicative of a newbie in the mainstream spotlight – frankly, songs like the title track, “Hooked,” “When the Sun Goes Down,” and “World on Fire” sound even more immersive for this very reason. It’s bold to step away from the rulebook when you’ve got something as smooth as this guy does in the studio, but it’s also a necessity if you’re going to get the most out of the compositional depth in these compositions.
I love the creative force in Nasty Crime, and if it’s something that this player is going to be able to make use of again in the future – without having to recycle any of the underlying themes in this tracklist – I can see him getting a lot more praise from critics beyond the underground market he’s been doing so well in the last two years. Alex Lopez is ably backed by some strong musicians in his band, but when all is said and done, I think it’s going to be undeniable that he’s a solid aesthetical entity who stands out all by himself when it counts.