For those disillusioned by the glossy, overproduced sheen that’s lacquered on so many mainstream country records, Christian Lopez Band’s Onward will be a much-needed respite from the pop-country deluge. While Lopez and his band do write crisply produced tunes full of great hooks, there’s never the sense that he’s glossing anything over, but rather refining what are some supremely catchy tunes. Lopez’ craft in this respect is all the more remarkable given his young age; as his artist bio cheekily puts it, he “is a 19-year-old with the soul of a 65-year-old Appalachian mountain bluegrass musician hidden away inside.” Onward makes it apparent that he not only knows but has respect for his aesthetic predecessors, particularly folks like George Strait, whose style can be heard echoed in tunes like “Morning Rise” and “Oh Those Tombs”. There are also hints of newer styles laced throughout; tunes like opener “Take You Away” would fit cozily on the shelf next to the most recent Lone Bellow record. All in all, Christian Lopez Band and Onward both put to bed any notion that country music is “dying”; based on this record, it’s still got a great deal of life in it.
Onward was produced by Dave Cobb, who has worked with country and Americana luminaries like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton.
Lopez tells PopMatters, “Releasing my debut album is a defining moment for me. I’ve carried these songs with me my whole life. With the love, hard work, and support of the people around me, I’ve been able to bring these songs to life, and I can’t wait to share them with you.”
Onward is out through Blaster Records on 19 May.