Rene Lopez may well be one of the most talented, charming and sadly under-appreciated artists I’ve had the unique pleasure of covering and getting to know through this site’s history. As the son of Rene Lopez Sr, a trumpeter who had played with the Ray Barretto Orchestra and Tipica 73, the younger Lopez was raised in a home where music was a very vital and constant presence; in fact, the younger Lopez learned how to play drums before he could read. But as Rene Lopez grew into his own as a musician, he gravitated towards rock, R&B, soul and funk. With stints in jam rock and rock bands such as Wasabi, the Authority and Extra Virgin. Lopez has been involved in New York’s music scene for the better part of two decades as a drummer and frontperson, playing in countless venues including the beloved and dearly departed home of New York’s jam band scene, The Wetlands. (Interestingly, some imd ago, I had mentioned Rene Lopez to a drummer friend, who I have written about once or twice, my friend had mentioned catching Lopez in a band back n the Wetlands days. Talk about small world, indeed!)
Interestingly, Lopez artistically speaking has been something of a chameleon throughout the bulk of his career. His fourth and most recent lull-length effort, Paint the Moon Gold is comprised of compositions that are stripped down to live instrumentationy — vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, horns, flute, etc. And in some way, the material possesses familiar elements as it continues to draw from the salsa of Lopez’s youth and of his late father, Rene Lopez, Sr. But it’s not as seemingly straightforward as the uninitiated would likely believe; in fact, the compositions manage to owe an even great debt to the breezy, summery feel of 70s Brazilian music.
However, his forthcoming EP, Love Has No Mercy and it’s first single, the EP title track “Love Has No Mercy” reveals yet another change in sonic direction for Lopez. Featuring a guest spot by vocalist Carol C, the track is a slinkily seductive, synth-based R&B and funk track that sounds as though it were inspired by Chic thanks to a sinuous bass line, a Nile Rodgers-styled rhythm guitar riff and cooed vocals. It’s track that’s sexy as hell — and it may be the funkiest, most straightforward party jam Lopez has released to date.