L.A. by way of Philly singer and guitarist Michael Lemmo began playing guitar at age eleven. By the time he was seventeen he had received a full ride scholarship to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. School didn’t seem to fit as a way for Lemmo to further hone his craft and after just two semesters of barely showing up for class his private instructor told him he should just quit school and forge out on his own, which is precisely what he did. Lemmo then moved to New York City for a time, bumming around and playing before finally deciding that L.A. was where he needed to be to make his music. Lemmo has been in talks with Warner Bros. in the past and also plays guitar in another band, though his first solo record 3:13 was written for his own pleasure.
If 3:13 sounds different, sounds like it was recorded years ago it probably has something to do with the fact that Lemmo decided to record the record completely analog and “on the used, the same tape machine that recorded albums like Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and Pink Floyd's The Wall.
3:13 gets started in classic indie fashion with the slow building “Up All Night” on which Lemmo laments with just a hint of trepidation “Everything is gonna be all right.” Soon the build comes and waves of clean and pretty guitars bear us along as Lemmo continues his vocals sounding like Ryan Adams minus the angst. This see-saw of hindered angst and big swells of shimmering guitar continue on the fragile “Heart of Glass.” On the ethereal “It’s Over” Lemmo shows off his guitar chops, as the song ambles from sad and ghostly melodies, which builds to a rock infested denouement.
Lemmo takes a break from the lonely heartbreak and trades it in for the more sparkly and radio friendly heart break which he accomplishes fully on the standout “All Right” with its rhythmic guitars the cool and mellowing synths and Lemmo’s catchy chorus, “I want it to be all right / I wanted to be king / I want it to be beautiful / I wanna make it everything.” Lemmo returns to the Adams-esque pop-gilded darkness on “Lay There” and shifts back into rock on “Ready for It” and leads into the equally ascension rocker “Way Side,” before coming down the mountain on the soft, soul-bearing “3:13.”
I suppose one could argue either way in attack or defense of 3:13 as a whole. I found myself a bit skeptical at first, but over time and several listens to the album I began to see 3:13 less like an outsider and more like an insider. Admittedly it’s not an easy album to dive into. It seems at first like one is overhearing a conversation that they shouldn’t or reading someone else’s private journals. But when the music and the message finally come together for you, you realize it’s totally worth the wait.
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