Oscar Lopez,
Mi Destino (My Destiny)
(Narada, 2003)

Calgary, Alberta-based, Chilean-born guitarist Oscar Lopez is a talented flamenco-type player whose passion for music brings together many diverse influences. His latest effort, Mi Destino, is an all-instrumental album with some very appealing guitar textures.

Through the filter of Lopez's guitar, everything sounds Andalucian, though influences of klezmer, merengue and other musical forms can be detected. You could call this music world-flamenco fusion if you wanted to label it.

Mi Destino scores high on the production and execution side. Musicians Manuel Jara (rhythm guitar), Hugh McMillan (electric bass, pedal steel guitars) and Raphael Geronimo (percussion) nicely complement Lopez's style on lead guitar.

To my ears, at least, Lopez's music is like the Gipsy Kings without the vocals (listening to this disc, I keep expecting the Reyes brothers to break out into manly song in Gitane). Though Lopez's music defies easy classification, he has clearly found a groove. The only problem is, it's a groove he finds it hard to get out of.

Despite its obvious strengths, this is not a CD for my tastes -- not that there is anything to dislike. In fact, I'm certain many would love it. (I highly recommended it to the owners of my local Second Cup coffeeshop.) Because, despite all the good musicianship and excellent production values, Mi Destino is a bit like wallpaper. Good, high quality wallpaper, perhaps, but still wallpaper.

For all his talent, Lopez sometimes strikes me as like a wind-up toy that just keeps on going and going. He seems to have one mood (fortunately, it's a good mood). As a result, any one of these tunes would sound fantastic as one entry on a compilation album, but it's probably too much of a good thing on one CD for me. Though this disc is pleasant and Lopez shows virtuosity, I'd still direct my listening energies elsewhere.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 22 May 2004

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