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Alex Lopez

Slowdown: A Story of Loss and Redemption

Review by Gary Hill

The elephant in the room here is about the bonus tracks at the end of this CD. I'm not so sure they should have been included. Don't get me wrong, they are great songs. In fact, they are both highlights of the set. The trouble is, this album is a concept album, and as such those two songs aren't part of it. I think that they take away from the message to some degree. For that reason, I almost think this would have worked better if they had been skipped altogether and held for a later release. 


With that out of the way, let's talk about the concept part of the CD - the album proper. This is a story of addiction and recovery. It's an important story and Alex Lopez and his band (Gary Dowell, Steve Pagano and Michael Maxim) do a great job of making it a listenable journey. The music is decidedly retro with an emphasis on bluesy hard rock. Just about everything in the album proper works really well. Overall, I'd consider this to be a successful release, both in sharing a lyrical message and in doing it in an entertaining way.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.


 

Track by Track Review
Dangerous

There is a lot of funk built into this thing. The whole effect of the cut is like something from the early 1970s. It's packed with class. The organ brings some retro cool to the proceedings. The guitar solo is pure cool.

The Wildlife

Old time rock and roll is the driving factor on this number. It makes me think of the Stones quite a bit, but the overall sound is just pure classic rock. I'm even reminded of Montrose's "Bad Motor Scooter" a bit.

Slowdown

The sound on this is so mean. The cut is packed with killer hard rocking bluesy sound. It has a definite 1970s vibe, but it's more modern in some ways. I like the horns on this thing. As good as the guitar soloing is throughout the album, this really stands taller than most. That says a lot.

Words of Wisdom

This song definitely makes me think of the bluesy side of Cream. Even the vocals call to mind Jack Bruce's a bit. I love the slide guitar on this. The organ adds some retro cool. I suppose some comparisons to Led Zeppelin wouldn't be out of the question, either, but this hard rocking blues tune seems more like Cream to me. The mellower dropped back section, though, has more of that Zep element at play.

Enough of It

Late 1960s hard rocking sounds are the concept here. Again, horns add some magic to this, but the whole song structure and vocal performance seem to be the biggest selling factors.

I don't know
Old time rock and roll based, this is another that calls to mind Led Zeppelin to a large degree. This lands on the Elvis Presley based side of that comparison. It's another effective rocker. The guitar solo is very much old school rock and roll based.
Exodus/Long Time

The section that opens this has a real blues rock goes heavy metal kind of sound. It's backed by an acoustic guitar backdrop that serves as the base for some guitar god electric soloing. Obviously that section is "Exodus." It gives way to an acoustic guitar based song structure that makes me think of The Guess Who for the "Long Time" part of this. While "Exodus" is instrumental, "Long Time" is vocal based and a bit on the bluesy side.

Stolen

This blues stomper reminds me a lot of "The Thrill is Gone." Given that I consider that the best song written in the twentieth century, that is a good thing. This is a slow moving number that's packed with emotion.

Redeem Me

A fast paced blues rocker, the organ really adds a lot to this. Listen for that bass line, though. Pagano is laying it down in style. This is a smoking hot tune that really is one of that standouts of the set. I dig the piano solo on this thing, too.

I love you Blues

A slow, mellower, blues grind, this has a lot of old school jazz in the mix. The guitar solo is particularly expressive.

Alive

This has more of a Beatles kind of vibe to it. If there's a song to skip here, this is it. It's not bad. It is just too repetitive and seems to drag on too long.

Slowdown (reprise)

This short reprise of the title track is all class.

Bonus Songs:
                 

Dance the Night with me

After some silence, the first bonus track comes in on piano. the vocals come in over the top of that backdrop.

War Without a Face

This rocker has some hints of progressive rock. The slide guitar stands tall. The whole tune has a nicely building melodic rock sound that works quite well.

 
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