Guitar slinger Lance Lopez seemingly falls into a category we can call "Texas blues 2.0." The Louisiana-born, Texas-reared roadhouse ruffian cut his teeth during the 1990s along the Gulf Coast as sideman for artists like fellow Texas bluesman Lucky Peterson, soul great Johnnie Taylor and Jimi Hendrix's Band Of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles — who co-produced Lopez' solo debut, 1999's "First Things First." The echoes of Texas blues guitar titans like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter and Billy Gibbons loom large in Lopez's playing, yet he ignites a blue flame with such intense, clenched-jaw passion that hits like a Motorhead-by-way-of-Freddie-King ball-peen hammer.
"Handmade Music" was produced by the legendary Jim Gaines, who's worked with luminaries from John Lee Hooker to Journey. The sound is raw, unrepressed, and a turbulent mix of ZZ Top-meets-Leslie West pentatonic blues riffage ("Hard Time"), Hendrixian groove ("Letters") and cry-in-your-beer countrified balladry ("Let Go"). Lopez's influences and musical tips of the hat become even more evident with a crushing cover of Robert Johnson's "Traveling Riverside Blues" — owing more to the tube amp-wailing Led Zeppelin cover of the Delta-blues classic than Johnson's own dry-boned Mississippi cry.
Lopez crafts a Southern-rock barnstormer with "Get Out And Walk" and tacks on some serious Chicago-blues credibility with the album's closer, "Lowdown Ways;" visions of Buddy Guy dance all over the strings.
With a knee bowed to classic blues tradition and a fret hand grasping at hard-rock thunder, Lance Lopez downs his blues with a whiskey chaser.