Mea Culpa, the new album by singer/songwriter Rob Bonfiglio, is a dazzling musical tour-de-force unified by themes of regret, redemption and love.
Produced, engineered and recorded by Bonfiglio, he’s a veritable one-man band, playing all the instruments, following in the grand D.I.Y. tradition of artists like Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren and Prince. And like those artists, he’s pulled off a mighty difficult trick, delivering a cohesive and dynamic sound full of wily invention and innovation.
Opening with the anthemic “The Message”, a jubilant ode to wide-eyed positivity and the all-encompassing power of pure love, Mea Culpa embraces a confluence of styles and textures, ranging from muscular hard driving rock, incandescent pop, Philly soul and slinky jazz. Powered by a circular guitar riff and blasts of wheezy Dylan-inflected harmonica, with its plea of “live for today” “Eyes on the Prize” declares its pointed lyrical intent, echoing a common thread that weaves throughout the entire record with a recommitment to what really matters.
The insanely catchy “Text Me” follows, bursting out of the speakers like warm sunshine after thirty days of rain, its infectious chorus celebrating the tools of social media for making a love connection against a backdrop of angular guitars, swirling synths and buoyant harmonies.
“No more wasted opportunity” pledges Bonfiglio on the soul searching “Hold on Tight”, a deft marriage of intimate acoustic and electric textures and soaring Hammond organ hard wired to reflective lyrics expressing the desire to be a better man.
The sublime ballad, “Fooled Myself” offers a refreshing change of pace from the album’s rhythmic intensity. Rising jangly piano chords, expressive vocals and tranquil harmonies add to the song’s intimacy, which sports a magnificent slide guitar solo that would surely bring a wide smile to George Harrison’s face. The jazzy “Real Love” shows off the artist’s stylistic versatility and also allows him to demonstrate his impressive chops on the six-string. A native of Philadelphia, Rob’s musical roots shine on this track, its silky smooth soul contours rendering an affectionate homage to Philly International’s classic hits of the ‘70s.
Balancing his career as a solo artist, Bonfiglio is a busy man. He’s the musical leader of multi-platinum pop trio, Wilson Phillips, a member of California Saga, a new musical outfit comprising the offspring of The Beach Boys and is back with acclaimed power pop practitioners, Wanderlust, whose RCA Records debut reaped raves in Billboard. As a songwriter, he’s enjoyed multiple successes with his songs featured prominently in numerous TV shows and films.
Vulnerable, reflective and soul searching, Mea Culpa is the confident work of an artist comfortable in his own skin. Make no mistake, when it comes to this extraordinary and accomplished release, no mea culpa will be necessary.