Eric Roberson – Lessons
Eric Roberson consistently voices the desires, frustrations, joys and loves of his legion of fans. That explains how he has managed to craft a long career that includes 16 albums, sold out shows and status as independent music royalty and elder statesman. He is an artist who still has his finger on the pulse on what resonates among his long-time fans, as well as those who are new to his music. Still, he must have been at least a little surprised by the overwhelming response the “Lessons,” the 2021 single that anticipated his album of the same name that has now been issued.
That song encapsulates what Roberson has consistently done throughout his stellar career. He pinpoints a situation or an emotion and then develops a musical story that fills out that scenario. How does an artist, athlete or any person who spends weeks at a time away from their family deal with the temptation that comes in the form of the beautiful and flirtatiously obsessed fan that we are introduced to in “Shake Your Hand?” (from his album Mr. Nice Guy).
Roberson never oversimplifies those nuanced situations. “Lessons” tells the story of a man looking back over his life in the minutes before his wedding and reflecting on how all the things went wrong in previous relationships prepared him to get it right this time. Everyone who listens to “Lessons” enters their personal ‘way back’ machine and engages in a similar retrospective.
Lessons the album is perhaps Roberson’s most personal album, so this project is filled with tracks where he expands on a scenario. Another strong moment comes on “Tried to Be Your Friend,” a melancholy and atmospheric ballad that could have been right at home on a Stevie Wonder album. The song is an eloquent stream of conscious monolog from a man tired of being the shoulder that a woman with a wayward lover cries on – particularly because he loves the woman himself. “Tried to Be Your Friend” finds Roberson expressing frustration with the situation while being resigned to the fact that nothing is going to change.
New Roberson fans will hear how the singer incorporates his musical loves into each of the tracks. The fun “Don’t Run From it Baby” fuses hip-hop and neo-soul into a song that finds Roberson encouraging a woman to stop second guessing what she’s feeling. “Everything” has an old-school gospel feel and a musical arrangement that syncs perfectly with the supernatural, all-consuming love that he feels for his woman; and he stays in that vein on the classic soul tune “Good Loving,” a track that finds Roberson letting his lady know that needs are pretty simple. The song includes a monologue from his father who is thinking back on the great life that he built with his wife.
Roberson’s continued longevity and success in music despite being an unsigned artist can be viewed as a commentary on the failure of the music business, and that’s what it is – in part. However, the independent success that Roberson has had throughout his career proves that quality work manages to find those who desire to hear it. Highly Recommended.
By Howard Dukes