BOBO CZARNOWSKI: The Man I Hope to Be
Are you a fan of Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Paxton, or perhaps some of the other notable folk singers back in the day? If so, you certainly will enjoy The Man I Hope to Be, a ten-track debut album from singer/songwriter Bobo Czarnowski, recorded, mixed, and produced by Jeff Berkley at his Ohm Grown Studio in Oceanside, California. Nine of the ten tracks are original tunes backed aptly by an all-star cast of musicians, including the late great Dennis Caplinger (mandolin, banjo, fiddle), Drew Cady (cello), Sharon Whyte (piano, organ, accordion), and Berkley adding bass, djembe, drums, and assorted guitar parts. The instrument orchestrations are rich and full and provide a soothing backdrop to Czarnowski’s guitar accompaniment and voice. Additionally, most of the tracks showcase the angelic vocal harmonies of Megan Fisher, which provide lush choruses behind Czarnowski’s insightful lyrics throughout.
The opening track, “Thank You for Being You,” is an ode to the partners of all musicians that have to put up with the idiosyncratic lifestyles many musicians maintain. “Thank you for giving me the space to be myself…and making room for feelings…feelings I never felt,” followed by the tune, “Hello Night Sky,” noting the mystery and beauty beyond the earth’s scope. “I’m getting older and life is hard…but my problems pale compared to your shining star.”
“Standing on Holy Ground,” set in a lilting 6/8 time signature, is a co-write authored with fellow songwriter, Ivan Boudreau, while at Czarnowski’s home on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada, with the song’s theme dealing with respect for the earth and the effects of climate change. “My brothers and sisters who do heed the call…our planet’s in danger…from thinking that small.”
“Live Your Song” speaks of seizing the day as each day is a calculated risk. “I look back on a life well lived …wondering what’s next in store…every day brings one more path…that I’ve never seen before.” The dulcet tones of Caplinger’s violin sets the mood for the minor key title track, “The Man I Hope to Be,” with poignant lyrics aimed at self discovery and personal growth in one’s life journey: “There comes a time in a man’s life…when he reflects in what he knows…he tries to see what’s coming next…what direction life will flow.”
Anchored by acoustic guitar front and center, “Today” features Czarnowski’s most optimistic lyrics. “I’m alive today…I can breathe today…I will love someone today…now how about you?” The tune “Long Long Way from Home” becomes a major centerpiece of the album with lyrics depicting Czarnowski’s years of living abroad in Nepal. “Returning from this distant land, with nothing left to lose…I’m a man coming home, with no one to come to.” The song crescendos with “the choir,” featuring Nitza Leichtling, John Ciullo, Jean Kelleher, Fisher, and Cady as they raise their voices in unison, chanting a Buddhist mantra.
“A Hole in the Sand” morphs into a gorgeous duet with Fisher after Czarnowski bemoans the many ills of the world. “With a clear yet quiet conscience…for the causes around me seem grim…I stare over this calm quiet harbor, I’m embarrassed of the silence within.”
Czarnowski ties a neat bow on the album with a beautiful rendition of singer/songwriter Peter Mayer’s tune “Holy Now,” a fitting conclusion to Czarnowski’s messages of optimism, hope, and peace within ourselves despite the despair of all the existing and looming obstacles the world must overcome.