REVIEW: Rick Lorenzini — The Anywhere Café (LP)
The Anywhere Café is the second album from The Jackstones’ founder Rick Lorenzini and has tremendous growth compared to his first. The debut album sparkled from beginning to end, but he’s taken an exponential leap forward with this twelve-track effort. He does not stand still, however. The songs vary from jazz-influenced fare to songs with a heavy folkie influence. The tracks share a relatively uniform length. Rick Lorenzini isn’t interested in long and winding compositions with no end game and the structures of each composition never feel or sound pieced together. They are fully rounded compositions with payoffs laden within each cut. The Anywhere Café is a special album and well worth the time it demands.
You should pay close attention to these songs. His language shines with one rich turn after another. “The Anywhere Café” is a perfect example of his faculty with lyric writing. It has a welcome point of view that details the everyday lives of a couple obviously attached to one another for many years. Pairing those lyrics with lively piano playing and a horn section is a minor masterstroke that ups the songwriting ante. One of the album’s strongest ballads arrives with The Anywhere Café’s third song. “Wouldn’t You Rather Be With Me?” musically relies on the marriage of acoustic guitar and piano. The haunted ambiance of the song’s lyrics capitalizes on excellent rhymes and occasional half-rhymes. Longing and loss are so vivid they are almost palpable.
“Just Once” is the first time we hear the tandem of piano and violin working together. It has a forlorn gait without ever dragging listeners into outright despair. You can’t say too many great things about his work on the keys. Lorenzini’s piano never tries overwhelming any of the songs and complements his lyrics and especially his voice. “The Ghost of Past Guitars” is one of the best lyrics on the album and a fun listen. He unshackles himself from the piano driven sound dominating much of the album and, instead, opts for a muted rock approach. Lorenzini locks in on each line of the track without losing the spark of inspiration that lights up the song from the outset.
“Make Me Well” has one of The Anywhere Café’s best melodies. Violin often doubles the effect of Lorenzini’s piano though its primary purpose is filling the song with color. Melancholy underpins this desperate track and the elegiac nature of the song’s lyrics. It is a lost cause not responding emotionally to this piece. Lorenzini crafts it for maximum effect. Organ doesn’t play an enormous role during The Anywhere Café but, when it hits, it leaves a mark. There’s no better example of this than the penultimate track “Johnny T”. It is a character study, of sorts, and the robust musical arrangement gives Lorenzini a foundation to work from. Rick Lorenzini’s The Anywhere Café is always on the move, but it is a searching and fearless recording scores of listeners will relish from the first to last notes. Welcome it with open arms, hearts, and especially minds.