This first one of his five studio albums is nominated for one award, Best Traditional R&B Performance, for the song "Sometimes I Cry." He's been up for four rewards in the past, but has yet to win.
I've personally never heard of this guy, so here's a little intro video to the album for those of you in the same boat. It's pretty cool to hear him happy and confident about this work.
"Sometimes I Cry" is actually the song that is nominated for a Grammy this year. It's got a very D'Angelo feel to it actually, and is slow moving with that higher-pitched soulful voice. It's about a guy getting over a girl, and he actually has someone else now, but it's just not the same. I'm not a huge fan of the falsetto we're hearing here throughout the entire song. Here's the video for the track:
"Always A Reason" completely made me think Diana Ross at first listen. We're digging back into soul when it was in a smoky lounge. It's actually a very optimistic song of knowing there's something to come, and there's always a reason for everything that happens, good and bad. Again, a little too much falsetto for my enjoyment - let's just hear that sweet natural voice buddy.
Eddie Levert joins in for "Paid" and we're bringing the beat back up. Actually, if I didn't know better, I'd say The Roots jumped on in to back this. Eddie helps with this scratchier voice that feels a little out of place, but it sounds like the two of them work well together. It's a good song about real people.
Another duet, Chrisette Michele comes on for "Take It," which I'd venture to say is a little more mastered than the other tracks we've heard so far. There's a few musical qualities that feel like they've come directly from a GarageBand loop. It's a give-and-take relationship song; probably the most sexual song we've heard so far. She knows what she wants though, and he's convinced he can deliver.
"Stir It Up" brings in more synth than I think we've been hearing, and while I don't like how this fits into the album as a whole, I appreciate the usage in changing things up a little bit - it's good for the song itself. Lyrically, it's, again, a good attempt at something, but seems kind of cheesy.
India Benet comes of for "Summer Love," which I'm convinced has to be this adorable song, but maybe I'm jaded by Greese. It is a nice story about their past though, and it's smooth. We're still hearing a steady beat, as each of his songs have demonstrated. As I listen more, I keep thinking computerized loops more and more, and less authentic than the start.
"Lost In Time" has that Diana Ross feel again, if for nothing more than the opening bells and beats. He's trying to make the most of life and move on, and you can feel that in his voice. If nothing else, I have to had it to Eric, you feel what he's singing, so long as he doesn't go up an octave or two too high. Here, for example, he's determined, but whimsical.
Ledisi is on with Eric next, bringing up to fun with "Good Life." I'm actually tapping my toe to this one and would love to hear this in a disco. Holy cow, that's what half of this album is reminding me of - disco! Dude, let's dance!
I know, dude is totally not fitting with this review. I can't stop being me though.
"Something's Wrong" starts and I can barely understand what he's saying. It's just a little too quiet and flowy. It's supposed to be a statement on seeing things wrong and not really knowing what, but I think we're missing the determination I was enjoying in previous songs. The feeling's just not all there this time.
I laughed seeing "Trippin'" on the list, because up until now I think we've kept a pretty classy vibe to the entire album. This is much more modern R&B than a lot of what's been going on. Again though, he's voice is a little too airy to really enjoy nearly as much as we had been. It's a good relaxing song, but I can't feel much from it.
"I might" (and no, I didn't mess up the capitalization - it's on the album that way) is cute and has a nice beat. I'm convinced of computer production on this one though - there is no drummer sitting there giving us something to rock to. This is a voice layered onto pre-done tracks.
Finally, we have "Better And Better," and I think at this point I've lost as much interest - so sorry to the fans. He's get a great voice and most of the arrangements have been really good, but what I loved the most about the beginning tracks were how much he was giving us emotionally, and it's gotten lost in the remaining ones.
Yeah, I know it's only one song. On one hand, I'd say hey, this isn't really my kind of music. On the other though, I think too much was over-produced. Even the songs I kind of liked more than others drug on or just weren't grabbing enough to want to hear over and over.
It's a good album for this genre though, don't get me wrong. It's new enough to stay interesting to listeners, and he's relatively young and fresh. There are 14 tracks though, and it's hard to listen to something that sounds like so many loops were used and still want to hear more. The throwback sounds were great though, and he has a really nice voice for soul. It was an album to experience, and really clearly carefully mixed with the dropped-in loops.