Review: Eric Roberson – The Box

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Eric Roberson is on a noble journey having emerged as a leader of the soul R&B crooner pack while navigating a twenty-year career largely as an independent artist in demand. Revered worldwide for being the type of songwriter, producer and entertainer of dynamic, unforgettable flair, Eric Roberson has come into his own since the debut of his first independent album in 2001, The Esoteric Movement, and continues to forge a distinct celebrated path. With the release of his tenth indie album, The Box, Eric Roberson continues to dominate with songs that revolve around the themes he best represents: love and personal relationships. Yet, as usual, he hits with a creative ingenuity that solidifies his mastery of storytelling through songwriting. Having collaborated with some of the most recognized and respected artists in the business, from Jill Scott to Fred Hammond to Charlie Wilson, the Grammy award nominee remains positioned to create music that charts, and his evolution as an artist refuses to stagnate.

Much of the excitement for Roberson surrounding the release of The Box has to do with the creative direction of the album which complements his trademark R&B narratives with the energy of classic hip-hop (a skill to look forward to during live performances when Eric inevitably freestyles lyrics shouted to him from the audience). The Box is both boom box and existing outside of the box, and features collaborations with noted MCs such as Tracey Lee (“Lust For Love”) and Pharoahe Monch (“The Cycle”) while paying homage to the type of hip-hop that has been a lifelong influence. He’s giving you “Stakes is High” meets live jam session, punctuated by a blazing horn section, acoustic big bass, electric guitar licks, and the occasional coloring of organ. The album delivers an ambience which makes you wonder about alternate takes of songs like the title track “The Box” featuring Dave Hollister or the jazzy tune “Haunted”. The skillful musicianship lends a cinematic score vibe to the stories he weaves throughout the project.

True to the Eric Roberson brand, the album is largely celebratory of the love found between romantic relationships, and also characterizes the woes that come with the territory. “Pill” with its juke joint spirit and the lingering realities of “Punch Drunk Love” epitomize the designation of “it’s complicated” within relationships. However, “I’m Not Trying To Keep Score No More” approaches those complications from a solution-based perspective. “Don’t Hide Your Wings”, “Just Imagine” and “Mark On Me” are a few of the songs dedicated to cherishing the love of one woman, and underscore the emotional weight and decision-making that comes with choosing to esteem that woman in the highest regard. On the other end of the spectrum, “Warm” is easily the most seductive cut on the record, and quintessentially so.

The album ends on a note of grand sentimental value. “Do The Same For Me” is an ode to the love that Eric has for his wife in a past, present and future context. Lyrically, he makes no promises of the tangible status symbols that blind many from the source of true happiness between partners, but he goes on to provide a guarantee of satisfaction that comes with the maturity of lifelong commitment and devotion. The song is truly a charming family affair, as honoring the special women in their lives are three generations of Roberson men: Eric along with his father, and his two sons. The Box represents a body of work that this artist should be extremely proud of, and on a whole, leaves the listener in a very good place.

 
Written by Mai Perkins

Originally from Los Angeles, Mai Perkins is currently living a decade long bona fide love affair with NYC and the music that keeps its spirit moving. Many of her adventures around the globe are documented on her blog: Mai On The Move! www.MaiOnTheMove.com

 
Author’s rating for The Box

Pop Magazine’s official rating for The Box

Rating key
MASTERPIECE a must-have
SUPERB for heavy rotation
EXCELLENT a great achievement
VERY GOOD a respectable result
GOOD worth checking out
FAIR an average outcome
WEAK not convincing stuff
BAD an underwhelming effort
VERY BAD quite a waste
FAIL a total failure

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