Christian Lopez Band – Onward


Somewhere tucked snugly in between each individual era of folk,
country, and bluegrass lies the soundscape which Christian Lopez and his
band inhabit. At 19 years old, Lopez isn’t necessarily the go-to,
end-all source for world-wrought calls of emotional anguish, but his
greatest bout for individuality in today’s folk circuit actually comes
from that aforementioned age-based factoid. Wearing a fresh face,
Lopez’s sweet croon lends itself kindly to well-mapped instances of
lyrical self-awareness and vibrant, sun-washed melodies, all too
bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to envelope listeners in his world.
He isn’t trying to understand every facet of love, and in that comes a
great sense of individuality through honesty that pervades throughout
his full-length studio debut, Onward.

Opening track “Take You Away” maintains shades of acoustic folk with
soft rock influences, not much unlike the 1970s contemporary scene taken
by the horns by Jackson Browne and fronted by artists like Dawes
in the modern era. Accompanied by fecund instrumentation primarily
courtesy of a sturdy ensemble comprised of piano, banjo, and electric
guitar, Lopez soars on the track’s chorus while still never quite going
100 percent with his vocals. There’s a palpable understanding of
enveloping music with a story and feeling rather than showboating and
dynamics – something that other, more popular bands inhabiting the same
genre as Lopez can learn a thing or two from. This slow-burning ballad
makes for a strong first impression for Lopez and the band, smartly
followed up by something livelier in the form of “Don’t Know How”, a
prime example of his wearing his seeming lack of love experience on his
sleeve and a fun, jangly rocker in its own right.

Another strength exhibited by Lopez on this earthy debut is his
insistence on organic vocal production. Producer Dave Cobb was “the guy
to go to” for Lopez in order to develop a record that keeps his vocals
front and center without any technical splits being made for so-called
21st century enhancements, and the two have accomplished that, by and
large, on Onward. Whilst the instrumentation remains lush and
fully present, it’s Lopez’s voice that takes center stage. Having the
ability to listen intently to his vocals without much anything clogging
the forefront makes for a pleasant, uninhibited experience that
encapsulates much about the very basis of traditional country and folk
music, which is based more on an ability to tell a story than any fancy
technological ballyhoo.

Lopez plays with Celtic folk influences on “Stay With Me”, inhabiting
a rich orchestral melody reminiscent of the neo-bluegrass popularized
by many up-and-comers in the industry, including but not limited to the
Punch Brothers and the Accidentals. There’s an inventiveness that
especially strives within the strength of the song’s hook that paves a
shining road ahead for Lopez as a songwriter in the ever-expansive world
of folk music, and paints a good picture of where he might be in the
coming years once his world experience meets his ingenuity as a
composer. In the meanwhile, Onward is inoffensive, vivacious
folk-rock that’s delightfully reflective of the shortcomings and hopes
of a young man with the whole world ahead of him.

via Blogger


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