Eric Roberson - The Box (2014)

Eric Roberson
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In a genre filled to critical mass with the flashy and the trendy, Eric Roberson is like a polished gem, honing a burgeoning fan base and cultivating his performance prowess with ambitious levels of study, stage work, songwriting and entrepreneurship. Around the mid-2000s, by the time Roberson had garnered several projects and the support from conscious soul lovers, the New Jersey native and Howard University graduate had already been lacing up many of their favorite performers with vocals, lyrics and production work (Charlie Wilson, Musiq Soulchild, The Foreign Exchange, Dwele, Algebra  Blessett and Jill Scott, to name a few, ). A lesser artist might have lost his own identity along the way somewhere, but Eric demonstrates his ease in transcending the traditional confines of R&B with his eighth studio set, ironically entitled The Box

In a genre filled to critical mass with the flashy and the trendy, Eric Roberson is like a polished gem, honing a burgeoning fan base and cultivating his performance prowess with ambitious levels of study, stage work, songwriting and entrepreneurship. Around the mid-2000s, by the time Roberson had garnered several projects and the support from conscious soul lovers, the New Jersey native and Howard University graduate had already been lacing up many of their favorite performers with vocals, lyrics and production work (Charlie Wilson, Musiq Soulchild, The Foreign Exchange, Dwele, Algebra  Blessett and Jill Scott, to name a few, ). A lesser artist might have lost his own identity along the way somewhere, but Eric demonstrates his ease in transcending the traditional confines of R&B with his eighth studio set, ironically entitled The Box

Hearkening to the musical memories of his childhood while drawing on a modern-day grown man's experiences in love, Eric Roberson adds refreshing depth and dimension to the typical scenarios of 'boy meets girl.' "Haunted" is both whimsical and weary, rueing a self-inflicted torment that caused him to fear, and lose, the game of love: "I'm haunted, by that day/when a scared young man pushed her away...I just hope I can win her back in time." 

"Pill" is a scat-filled and skittish uptempo, frantically conveying a bachelor's paranoia ("Now she's picking colors and calling up her mother, setting dates now I'm in trouble for sure!") while its flip-side, the current single, "Mark On Me," reveals the incredulous awe of a playa not used to being all up in his feelings: "I smell her hair, I even smell he perfume/Even though I know she's not there, I can presume she left her mark on me....."  

No matter where one is in their listening journey with Eric, they quickly learn that half of his acclaim is from getting those grooves right and the rest lies in creating infectious, anecdotal narratives ("Lust For Love," "Warm") that both genders can relate to. Roberson is also skilled in exploring parts of a woman beyond the sexual aspect, evident in "Don't Hide Your Wings" and the evocative, dream-laden "Just Imagine," where KING adds flourish to the romantic challenge of recapturing that loving feeling.

Eric's range continues to broaden and beguile throughout: an olive branch set to music, "I'm Not Trying To Keep Score No More" is an upbeat reminder to favor a happy partner over debate points, while "Lust For Love," featuring a cameo by Tracey Lee, is almost glib in recounting the time he mistook sexual synergy for Happily Ever (ouch). "The Cycle" isn't your average hip-hop-flavored love story, with Pharoahe Monch injecting extra machismo into the pursuit of a woman fresh out of a same-sex relationship ("He'd hurt her so bad, made her so sick/she was willing to give up on [echoing silence]......"), and he rejoins United Tenors group mate, Dave Hollister, for the title track, a bass-fueled and percussive mantra about resilience and faith ("If you knew you that you had the power," Hollister croons, "maybe then you wouldn't lay it on down.").

Mesmerizing, multi-layered jams, occasional hints of retro flair and even a tender father and son duet to finish it off with finesse ("Do The Same For Me"): count on The Box to assure higher prominence and heavy rotation for the rest of 2014. In other words, it's yet another gleaming jewel in the crown for "Erro," the King of Independent R&B. Enthusiastically Recommended. 

By Melody Charles

CLICK HERE to listen to "The Box"

 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

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