January 8, 2023
Rick Lorenzini’s The Anywhere Café isn’t your typical singer/songwriter album. His musicianship dresses up each of the dozen songs as more than perfunctory vehicles for his lyrics. The multi-instrumental shows remarkable musical dexterity. Moving back and forth from piano-laden jazz into outright folk while keeping a steady and coherent identity is no small feat. Moreover, he makes it sound easy. Each of the collection’s twelve songs flow out of Lorenzini as naturally as breathing. Nothing sounds plotted out or succumbs to pandering. Instead, it has complete sincerity no matter what style he’s working with, and it emerges stamped with his personality and experiences.
Lorenzini hits listeners fully formed with each track. The album’s title song exemplifies this. No one can claim he’s an one note composer and writer when “The Anywhere Café” shows him revealing a seldom discussed side of romantic relationships. It isn’t a love song brimming with customary platitudes but focuses instead on the humdrum vagaries of love. It makes the case without outright stating that those humdrum vagaries add up to something more. The detail-heavy lyrics land just right for listeners, and he delivers the words with genuine warmth and affection. The upbeat jazzy arrangement is extra spice, especially the horns.
Many of the songs are built around Lorenzini’s piano playing. There are exceptions. “Before You Made Everything” wavers between barely restrained bitterness and heartache without lingering too long with any particular emotion. There’s love here, as well. He foregoes the piano in favor of an acoustic guitar dominated song and his talents on the instrument are obvious. “Wouldn’t You Rather Be With Me?” is another aching tune filled with loss and regret. He proves here and elsewhere to be a canny observer of character and avoids the usual traps lesser songwriters often fall into.
“Quiet the Rumor” is one of the album’s most insightful and mature lyrics. Many listeners will notice his talent for compelling opening lines that set the stage for everything that follows. “Quiet the Rumor” tackles a rarely explored subject with grace and well-honed imagery. The piano playing is another highlight. “God Knows Better” continues putting Lorenzini riding a wave of inspiration through The Anywhere Café’s second half and incorporates electric and acoustic guitar with memorable results. The payoff line for the chorus is especially well-turned and his vocal deepens its impact on listeners.
Violin and piano are one of the album’s mainstays. One of the best examples of this instrumental tandem is the late song “Nicely Done”. It’s a loaded portrayal of what happens when we see someone who takes our breath away but, ultimately, proves more destructive than redemptive. Few lyricists today will be writing lines like “into the deluge we cascade…”, a key poetic turn of phrase in the track “Say It Again”. Lorenzini’s songwriting landscape is bursting with complicated romantic relationships that are never as clear or loving as he wants. He surveys those landscapes, however, with an inner eye that misses nothing. “Say It Again” is one of the best examples of this. The Anywhere Café is a deeply romantic release in general, but his songwriting takes in so much more. It’s his best collection yet.
Wayne Riker May 2023
The Anywhere Cafe is a 12-track offering of all original songs from singer/songwriter Rick Lorenzini, who accompanies himself vocally on piano and guitar on every track, save one. The project was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Signature Sound Studios in San Diego by Michael Harris, with additional recording at Bigrock Studios in Escondido, engineered by Andy Machin, who also contributed guitar and background vocal parts on select tracks.
An up-tempo swing tempo sets the stage for the opening track, the title track, with Lorenzini front and center vocally as if he’s entertaining a packed lounge audience. “You’ll always ask me where do I wanna go…well how about anywhere with you,” followed immediately by “Before You Made Everything,” a 180-degree turn with Lorenzini solo on acoustic guitar and vocals. “Did you think we could love one another, without casualties?”
Lorenzini switches over to piano for “Wouldn’t You Rather Be with Me,” with a nice melodic acoustic guitar solo from Machin. “I’m sure you’re sorry for the way you fled, running off like you were scared of the dark.”
On “Just Once,” Lorenzini hands the mic over to vocalist Holly Rix whose mellifluous voice carries Lorenzini’s lyrics. “I was so much more than your pretty Valentine…but we were never completely attached.”
On “The Ghost of Past Guitars,” a full electric band joins the project with Vitaliy Tkachuk on guitar, Nate Barnes on drums, Chris Bonner on bass, and Mike Harris on percussion providing an Eagles/Allman Brothers layer of guitar harmonies supporting Lorenzini’s muse. “Paid a fortune teller at the square for 20 dollars…she’ll take your hand and she’ll search your soul.”
“Quiet the Rumor” brings Machin back in the guitar chair, supporting Lorenzini on piano and voice. “If you leave me I will surely follow…as long as it don’t cost me,” followed by “God Knows Better,” Lorenzini’s take on faith: “I don’t pray anymore and I’m no longer bitter.”
The concluding five tracks spotlight Lorenzini on piano with cellist Bruno Serroni joining in on the first three, a familiar combination harkening back to the storytelling days of Harry Chapin with Lorenzini’s voice front and center, opening with “Make Me Well.” “We could weather the darkest skies we find ourselves in…that will come like an eventual storm,” to the sarcasm of “Nicely Done.” “Nicely done, you’ve made me a mess.”
With “Say It Again,” a recurrent theme of unrequited love. “Say it again, say my name…quietly that I have to strain,” followed by “Johnny T,” an old friend who took the wrong path in life. “It’s a damn good thing Johnny T is gone.”
The concluding track, “It Attracts Me,” sums up most of Lorenzini’s reflections back of love lost and what could have been. “I think I’ve lost my mind over you…and if I can’t find it, that’s cruel.” It’s a mesmerizing listen of a life’s journey through Lorenzini’s compositions that are well written with simple accompaniment and arrangements that don’t stand in the way of the songwriter’s lyrical reflections