That Eric Benét is enjoying a solid response to "A Day In The Life," his sophomore album on Warner Brothers comes as no surprise. It is, without doubt, one of the best records of the year so far, a brilliantly-crafted, lyrically sound set that feels up-close and personal. A conversation I had with the genial singer-songwriter held just a few weeks before the April release of the album reveals how Benét went about making the record: "I don't like to approach songwriting or anything I do creatively with a 'theme' in mind...I like to let whatever is going to flow do just that. When it came to recording this album, I just wanted to express my creative growth, have it be a continuation of what I had done on the previous album "True To Myself" and I started solidying ideas for the record about a year ago..."
Milwaukee native Benét candidly states that "real life experience" provided the fuel for the lyrical content of most of the songs on the new album: "A song or two I peeped from other people's stories but I would flip through old diaries and raggedy-ass notebooks from back in my college days for inspiration. Most of the songs are about relationships I had with one or two women...."Love The Hurt Away" is about someone very close but our timing was 'off' because we were both with other people. With "Come As You Are," I knew we were going through the motions but the masquerade hurt a whole lot worse than ending the bullshit. And "Love Of My Own," that's optimistically melancholy....where I can't seem to lock in [the relationship] the right way so I'm still searching..."
Warner Brothers has released a second single from the album: following a good reaction to Eric's remake of the '70s Toto hit "Georgy Porgy" (which featured Faith Evans) comes "Spend My Life With You," a duet with Tamia. "She is not only amazingly beautiful but she has so much diversity in her voice," he says. "There's tenderness, power...she can convey all these emotions with her voice...and singing right there with her in the studio, it was easy to fantasize what the song was about!"
The album also includes a guest spot from classic soul man Roy Ayers on the standout tune "When You Think Of Me" and Benét - who cites Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Rufus & Chaka Khan and Donny Hathaway among his influences - comments, "It was an amazing honor to have Roy on the record but because of the producers' schedules, I wasn't able to be there when he did his part. As soon as we finished writing the song, we knew we needed Roy on it so we reached out and got him..."
Aware that there are a few other male purveyors of retro-soul out there, Eric Benét is philosophical: "I'm a huge fan of everyone - Maxwell, D'Angelo, ony Rich, Kenny Lattimore - and I respect their work immensely. Each of us is diffeent but these days, any music that sounds like pure R&B, that was influenced by what I call the glory days of R&B is chucked into this 'alternative' R&B category. All I can say is that I often see my name in publications next to theirs and it's very flattering...we're all just trying to say something positive with our music..."
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.