by Rhetta Akamatsu
Guitar ace, songwriter and singer Bobby Messano is about to release a new album, Lemonade, and it lives up to the high standard you would expect for a man who has spent 43 years perfecting his craft.
Full disclosure: Bobby and I have been friends for years. I am not in any way claiming to be impartial. We became friends because I loved his music, and I still do.
That said, Lemonade is Bobby at the pinnacle of his ability. It has the same honesty, strong storytelling, and occasional wry humor that are trademarks of the man. His songwriting has never been better. And he has a fantastic band with guitarist Bob Malone, drummer Doug Belote, and bassist Carl Dufrene Jr. all of whom also help out with background vocals. Even JoeBaby Michaels, who co-produced the album with Messano. helps with those!
The album starts out with “The Bad Guys,” which raises the question of who is bad and who is good? It is one of two strong songs co-written by Messano with Meredith Reed
Another song they wrote together is the swampy, heartfelt”Heal Me,” It is followed by the title cut, which was inspired by the circumstances of making the album. He ended up writing 7 songs in 36 hours on the road, and yet, like this one, they turned out tasty!
The instrumental “Junk Jam’ was created by Messano and the whole band. It is a blend of old-school funk and New Orleans jazz, a good-time song for sure! It leads into the wry, rowdy “It’s Just The Money That’s Missing,” about the constant need of the traveling musician for money for things like gas and food.
“A Thursday in June” is important. Messano says, “I believe this is the most important song I have ever written.” This haunting song, written about a terrible thing that happened to a friend of his and is perfect for today’s awareness of women’s issues. By contrast, “I Don’t Want To Miss You Anymore” is a funky blues. Messano got to play one of BB King’s Gibson ES355 guitars, making the solos extra special! It is followed by “Black & White,” on which we get us social commentary with a Bo Diddley beat.
Heading to the finale,”í’m Tired of Writing YThe Blues” is an honest look at the downside of a lifetime on the road and in the studio, and a great song musically as well.
The album ends with a great acoustic version of Stephen Stills’ “Find The Cost of Freedom,” a song as pertinent now as it has ever been. It is beautifully done. with stellar guitar and strong vocals from the entire band.
In Lemonade, Bobby Messano has truly taken the sweet and sour of his life and career and made something wonderful. Look for Lemonade’s official release July 12 and be refreshed!