R&B Crooner Eric Roberson Performs at Speakeasy

The Language of Love
By Eric Tullis
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |
Eric Roberson
One of the pivotal moments in the 1992 rom-com Boomerang comes from a scene in which Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy) — a big-time, handsome ad executive who’s grown all too comfortable in his philandering lifestyle — gets a taste of his own medicine following a sexual encounter with his new boss.

“I’ll call you tomorrow, OK?” she says nonchalantly on her way out, leaving her new prey, Graham, dangling in the throes of no-strings-attached sex. He feels confused, used, enamored and sprung all at once. In short, she left her mark on him.

Thirty-seven-year-old R&B balladeer Eric Roberson has kept this scene with him over the years. In fact, he uses it as a muse for the lead single, “Mark on Me,” from his album The Box, which was released earlier this month.

“I thought after we shared an evening, that I would have the upper hand / but the thought of this girl ain’t leavin’ / she’s constantly on my mind / and I thought it would be the other way around / and I found / the games I played are playin’ on me right now,” Roberson admits over twinkling chords in the song’s onset.

What: Eric Roberson
Where: Speakeasy, 711 Saluda Ave.
When: Thursday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m.
With: Analog
Price: $30
More Info: 255-0869
We’ve all been there in one way or another, but it takes a consummate romantic like Roberson to articulate this vulnerability as a testimonial — to locate this lust in the ambit of maturity.

It may have taken the Grammy-nominated New Jersey native 10 albums to explore this particular topic, but over the span of his last nine albums, he’s touched on nearly every aspect of love’s entanglements, sacrifices and triumphs. Those moments stick out from as far back as 2001’s The Esoteric Movement, where Roberson laments the blurred lines of the friend zone on “Morning After” and covers 112’s rejection dirge “Funny Feelings” with heightened forlornness.

A few years later, Roberson would reemerge with The Appetizer, which contrary to the title, was a full-course effort comprising early ‘90s-style R&B (“The Moon”) and relentless courtship (“What I Gotta Do?”). Left followed soon thereafter, in 2007, solidifying Roberson as one of R&B’s sweetest serenaders, newly suited with classic slow jams like “Pen Cries Away,” “Right Or Wrong,” “Too Soon” and “Pretty Girl.”

Now, three years after his last release, Mr. Nice Guy, Roberson’s soul journey continues with his most musical release yet, The Box, which he describes as “mature with b-boy flair.” Ever the jokester, Roberson probably finds the irony of this R&B album’s title as humorous as anyone else. However, the title has little to do with a woman’s nether region. It’s actually an ode to his sister’s boombox — the genesis of his bond with music as a youngster. But then we get the adult Roberson, or “Erro” as his fans call him, on “The Box,” a duet with Dave Hollister on which the two extol the power of the vagina. “Between your thighs / is the strongest thing known to man / You should care for it if you can,” Roberson sings.

As both crooner and entertainer, Roberson brings this mature material to life on stage. He wants us all to confront romance’s follies and treat love as an adventure rather than a burden. Today’s prevailing R&B sentiment toward the ladies is that “these hoes ain’t loyal,” but how loyal to R&B have any of these leading men been? That’s never been a problem for Erro — and it won’t be as long as keeps his loyal fans by leaving his mark on them.

Let us know what you think: Email music@free-times.com.

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