Christian Lopez Band, "Onward" (Blaster)
Christian Lopez sings road songs that involve no carousing, perhaps because he's too young to drink. "Onward" is the first long-player from the 19-year-old West Virginian, and it's clear that his home state isn't big enough to contain his precocious talent.
The album's opening verse has Lopez planning his escape, driven by an eagerness to expand his audience while exploring highways and unpaved paths. The soundtrack for his wanderlust is an adroit mix of contemporary alt-country, gospel and sunny '70s pop.
Lopez's versatile tenor has an appealing ache on twangy tunes, and his croon will make girls swoon. Producer Dave Cobb's restrained arrangements wisely put the emphasis on the voices, including Chelsea McBee's lovely harmonies.
While Lopez shows promise as a songwriter, the album's highlight is an inspired cover of Hank Williams' "Oh Those Tombs." This restless teenage traveler knows exactly where he's headed.