New Audio: New York’s Rene Lopez Is Back and Bringing Some Old-School 1980s-Leaning Funk

Over the course of this site’s five year history, I’ve written quite a bit about New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rene Lopez, who is among a group of incredibly talented and shamefully under-appreciated artists I’ve covered and have gotten to know in some fashion. And throughout those five years, Lopez has uncompromisingly refused to be pigeonholed into one particular genre. E.L.S. (short for Electric Latin Soul), Lopez’s 2011 release, saw the New York-based artist meshing salsa, boogaloo, old school hip-hop, merengue and electronica to create a sound that was a loving homage to Latino New York and to old school New York I grew up in, but with an inventive, modern re-interpretation. It’s an amiably swaggering, upbeat party album with sounds that grab you by the hand and pulls you towards the dance floor.

Paint the Moon Gold, his last and most recent full-length released in 2014 was comprised of stripped down compositions consisting of live instrumentation only — vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, horns, flute, etc. — while drawing deeply from salsa, and 70s Brazilian music. In some way, that material brought Lopez back to the music that his father played as a member of Tipica 73 — and is just as danceable; but importantly, the material on that album seemed to come from a deeply personal place, as lyrically and thematically,  the material expresses the thoughts, sentiments, regrets, compromises and desires of a worldly, experienced man, who has looked back at his life with a sense of amazement and disbelief and the recognition life is at times remarkably painful, remarkably strange and incredibly, profoundly wonderful — sometimes simultaneously.

Lopez’s most recent recorded effort, Love Has No Mercy was released at the end of last year, and from his previous efforts it would seem to be the most dramatic change of sonic direction in his career as the material is comprised of slinkily seductive synth-based R&B and funk, inspired by Prince, The Gap BandRick JamesChic and others. However, as Lopez had told me in an interview, he grew up in a household where salsa and merengue and disco were routinely played, and his first band The Authority was deeply influenced by his love of the aforementioned Prince. So in some way, Lopez has come back full circle.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of months, you may recall that I wrote about Lopez’s then-recently released single “Heavy, Baby Heavy,” a single that not only continues Lopez’s long-held fascination and love of all things funk, but was also the first released single in his Jam of the Month series. (Presumably, the Single of the Month series is meant to build up buzz for a new recorded effort, which he and his backing band have been working on for quite some time.) The third single of the Single of the Month series, “Trouble Lovin’ Lady” consists of squiggling and trembling synths, a brass section that punctuates the song’s chorus, a sinuous and funky bass line, propulsive drums in a song that channels Rick James’  “Ghetto Life,” “Give It To Me,” and “Superfreak,” The Gap Band’s “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” and others — but with a sexy horn solo at the song’s bridge; in fact, the song sounds as though it could have easily been released in 1982. Simply put it’s a funky, party-friendly song that drive you to the dance floor — right now.