I confess knowing nothing about Rick Lorenzini and his work going into his new album The Anywhere Café. Hailing from Southern California, I expected his second album to come across as fairly innocuous singer/songwriter fare without any of the spark that separates the wheat from the chaff. A single listen to the album’s twelve songs, however, disabused me of such notions. The opener alone turned my head and the succeeding songs did nothing to steer me away from his work. His mix of piano fueled jazz and folk music conceits works without ever smacking of pretension. Lorenzini’s lyrical content, as well, is incisive and often startingly poetic. I’m grateful I’ve acquainted myself with his work and believe you will be as well.
The title cut begins things. It’s a little bit of artistic slight of hand as the point of view he adopts for “The Anywhere Café” differs from the songs to come. The title song, instead, is an endearing slice of domestic bliss set to music and anyone who has experienced those salad days of love will understand what he’s writing and singing about. It has a fully rounded approach with piano, drums, and horns working together to lay down a full and satisfying track.
The second and third tracks are especially enchanting. “Before You Made Everything” conveys an array of emotions that I relate to and it’s easy to expect anyone encountering the cut will feel the same. His acoustic guitar playing places the song in folk music territory though it never sounds out of place following the opener’s jazzy slant. It’s arguably the album’s finest lyric as well. “Wouldn’t You Rather Be With Me?” is perhaps the album’s gentlest moment. His desire for the song’s subject makes his voice quake with longing, but I couldn’t ignore the pain laced through his voice. There are other highlights to come, but the opening trio of tracks gets The Anywhere Café off to an exceptional start.
“The Ghost of Past Guitars” rates among the album’s most intelligent songs. It jolted me to see this title because it’s so suggestive and the lyrics deliver on that promise. It’s a musical triumph, as well, as Lorenzini switches gears into a rock arrangement without missing a beat. The song pushes the tempo in a way no other album track does. Production emphasizes the strengths of “God Knows Better” as working at the board captures the guitar work with outstanding fidelity. It likewise gives an added dramatic quality to Lorenzini’s singing that’s appropriate for another of the album’s high points.
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“Johnny T” reflects Lorenzini’s commanding storyteller presence. It’s another track sans drums but I believe it is unlikely that listeners will find much to quibble about regarding their omission. His lyrics do a superb job of rendering characters in miniature, and like many other songs of this ilk, we invariably learn more about the “speaker” than we do the song’s supposed subject. I can scarcely imagine a collection of songs more personal. Rick Lorenzini turns in a true gem with The Anywhere Café.