Gregory M. White
October 9, 2008
Rene Lopez strikes an unassuming pose on stage. He wears brown plimsolls, Levi’s, and a feathered fedora. He strums and stares, conjured up couplets that flow naturally. They aren’t forced onto his audience.
“You feel naked out there,” Lopez said.
In person he plays with all the innocence of a college-aged boy, perched in his dorm room frame. There is a bedside manner to his solo gigs that evokes the sweet nothings of a cuddle session with your significant other. He still finds the environment intimidating, even after years in music.
“Its hard going up there by myself,” he said
His lyrics flow with hearty, almost simple, earnestness in ‘Nothing’s Left,’ “When I fell from grace all I saw was your face. Stood against the wall as the stones broke my bones.”
“The majority of them come from my relationship with my wife and myself,” he said.
Living in Greenwich Village with his wife Susie and two children, Lopez leads the life of a caring father. The hurried voice of a busy Dad was evident during the phone conversation. He spent the summer on vacation with his family in Los Angeles, where he got back to recording.
“I think being in L.A really refueled me again,” he said.
It was in L.A. that Lopez tried out some new recording techniques that he found “liberating.” Every day he woke up and got to work.
“I’m gonna go in there and write a song and finish it,” he said
He is now tempted to record a stripped down album.
“Let’s make it like when were teenagers in our bedrooms on our four track,” he said.
Lopez has not always been so motivated. He’s been able to play music all his life without holding another job because he has, “some Angels on my side.”
This financial support was not something Lopez wanted to speak about, but he was willing to say he sometimes felt lazy because of it. He felt he wasn’t proactive enough in his career when he was younger and that he was taking advantage of his situation in the wrong way.
“I was living the life of a rock star without being a rock star,” he said.
Lopez has been in several bands in several roles. He started out playing drums then moved to lead vocals, a la Prince, one of his idols. He has played in a soul review and brings all this experience to his current music.
There is an undeniable influence of funk and Motown to the music that Lopez now makes. Its as if you have plucked the earnestness of a songwriter like Marvin Gaye, and stripped the politics off of it, leaving a household charm that evokes Depression Era simplicity. Those artists have a particular feel Lopez prefers.
“I love the way they feel the music,” Lopez said. “I love the way they sing the song.”
Lopez also felt for their ability to convey emotion.
“I love that the songs can be happy about sad things.”
That sort of raw emotion is something Lopez strives for in his acoustic sets. He said he picked up the guitar to write songs for himself and that he never bothered learning anyone else’s. There is nothing private on stage, where every chord and chorus comes with a crooner’s commitment.
Lopez has been performing at The Living Room in the Lower East Side for the past few weeks and will take the stage there again Mondays in November. He has a show at the Dactyl Foundation, 64 Grand St. on Oct. 17.