Trouble is good, but listening to Texas axe slinger Lance Lopez on this kind of red-hot form far exceeds that.
If there were any fears that Lopez’s mean guitar chops would malfunction following his exit from all-star blues-rock project Supersonic Blues Machine, he’s delivered another corking contraption of blistering, heavy blues-rock with his latest LP. Even better, there’s no sign of AI intervening, with 10 finely-crafted originals showcasing an ability beyond the endless six-string firepower.
Lopez deemed it time to Tell The Truth in 2018, but Trouble Is Good is much more than a platform for him to let rip on his 65-reissue Firebird. Don’t get me wrong, the riffs are meaty (almost nasty), and the solos sizzle like they’ve just come off a good ol’ Texas BBQ, but there’s a generous amount of blues rub to tickle the tastebuds of purists.
The gloves are off from the word go, with Lopez’s passionate, gravelly voice venomously spitting out on the punchy “Easy To Leave.” Sure it’s powerful but still retains a stripped-back character and healthy helping of stick-to-your-ribs guitar wailing.
Lead single “Jam With Me” is gloriously jubilant and welcomes you to ‘the house of tone’ with some scintillating slide guitar. Based on a fiery, ZZ Top-inspired riff, it’s impossible not to feel the utter joy of every band member strutting their stuff on this killer number.
The slide gets things turning on the title track before the riffmaster supreme gets groovy and heavy. Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd) adds some classy keyboard flavor to the hardcore blues-rock, while the backing vocals hark back to rural Mississippi.
Lyrically, the album reflects the world’s troubles over the past few years, as well as some of Lopez’s own emotional inner turmoil. This comes to a head on “Uncivil War” — a soulful ballad awash with angst.
Lopez clearly doesn’t’ need much encouragement to “Take a Swing,” but he comes out fretboard flailing from the first bell with a brutal super-charged riff and stunning guitar overlay to keep the massive sounding drums at bay. He even warns you to ‘look out’ before launching into a solo that’s as refined as it is relentless.
If your head is still spinning from the pounding pace, then “Trying in the Tri State” will leave you feeling ‘dizzy from the crossroads’ with another eyebrow-raising solo to rival what went before. You quickly understand why the late, great Jeff Beck labeled Lopez “a very exciting and intense blues guitarist.”
Closer “Voyager: Sunrise, Voyager, I Am Ra” does, however goes off the beaten track. Clocking in over seven minutes, it draws heavily from Led Zep with its mysticism, delivering a sprawling, swirling storm of musical fruition, underpinning the power of a good jam.
So dynamic, so fluid, so unabashed, Lopez’s spellbinding talent is very much on show throughout this record. It’s impossible to ignore, but it would be cynical to brand it a solo record, such is the fellow breathless brilliance of his backing band. This is the result of a group of musicians having an awfully good time, hence why it sounds so raw and natural.
Grab a cold beer and embrace what’s left of the summer with this wondrous slab of blues-infused hard rock. After all, it’s hard to stay out of trouble when it’s this good.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Jam With Me
– Take a Swing
– Voyager: Sunrise, Voyager, I Am Ra
The Big Hit
– Jam With Me
Buy the album: Amazon