The Appetizer

The Appetizer

While The Appetizer started as a five-song stopgap to hold over fans while Eric Roberson finished his next album, the planned EP turned into a 10-song mini-album that doesn’t just indicate the singer’s future but succinctly summarizes the range of his talent. There's an unmistakable hip-hop flavor running through this, especially on the opening cuts “N2U” and “What I Gotta Do?”; both would fit comfortably alongside classic songs by A Tribe Called Quest and Slum Village. There's even a trace of West Coast hip-hop in “Hesitation.” But just when you think you have Roberson pegged as a rap-soul hybrid, he turns out “Just a Dream”: a gentle, string-laden ballad that recalls Stevie Wonder, or perhaps even Frank Sinatra at his most wistful. “The Moon” is a gorgeous revival of early-'90s R&B, a nod to the era in which Roberson honed his craft. For all its sophistication, there's something strikingly no-nonsense about The Appetizer. “Painkiller” and “We Can’t Pretend” are swift and simple, but they never sound tossed-off; they're the work of an artist in his element, unlocking his talents with a total absence of pressure.

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