...Left

by: Eric Roberson

Eric Roberson (or "Erro" as his cult of fans refer to him) bookends ...Left with what acts as the album's most elaborate musical statements. "Music" is a Latin-tinged number, fit with choruses of horn blasts and a ride-out sax solo that sets the record off with Roberson in full character. Grinding on the scene since a failed relationship with Warner in the '90s, Roberson is not only a grizzled vet on the soul scene, but perhaps new-soul "music"'s hardest worker, constantly touring, writing for the genres more visible acts (Jill Scott, Vivian Green) and running an indie label (Blue Erro Soul), which released ...Left and 2005's Appetizer. "Music" is a song where Roberson admits "I hope you got the CD and it's not a burn, now. And even if it is, I'm glad I got your ears" and calls himself (very accurately) a "soul survivor." He's survived in this industry thanks to songs like the album's closer "Couldn't Hear Her" and "Smoke Signals -- Man Who Had It All." The former is a reprise of what has become a Roberson standard, "Couldn't Hear Me" (Presents: The Vault, Vol. 1.5), this time expressing how via his singularly focused career and tireless work he has carried on at the expense of love. The final five minutes of the nine-minute song features a scorching guitar solo (courtesy of Curtis Chambers from of Philly-based Franklin Bridge) that wails over a track full of regret. "Smoke Signals" is the type of divergent trip from a soul artist that displays Roberson's artistic ambitions aren't in a box. Sandwiched between these three songs is Roberson's level-headed crooning and adult content -- adult because it's mature and keen, not profane or vulgar. "Pretty Girl" is earnest in its concern for the song's lost souls. "Right or Wrong" is honest, not cavalier. Because he pulls off what his peers (many better known) struggle to do, it's clear that Eric Roberson is a veteran in his prime, and ...Left is an all-star performance. ~ Vincent Thomas

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