Rick Lorenzini’s “The Anywhere Café”
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.