Editors' pick

Eric Roberson

Rhythm and Blues
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Editorial Review

ERIC ROBERSON
Album review: "Mister Nice Guy"

If Washington area R&B fans had had their way, singer-songwriter and soul man Eric Roberson would have snared a Grammy long ago. The Howard University alum earned two nominations for singles off "Music Fan First," a 2009 album devoted to his ever-growing following, and his new release, "Mister Nice Guy," is yet another shrewdly crafted and paced crowd pleaser.

Once again, Roberson has special guests to thank. Though the album won't hit stores for a few weeks, two singles that have already been drawn from it feature rappers Chubb Rock ("Summertime Anthem") and Phonte ("Picture Perfect"). By turns playful and unabashedly romantic, these tracks reflect the album's mood shifts and pave the way for additional cameos.

Mostly, though, Roberson supplies the charm. While known to fans as "Erro," he's introduced as "the amazing, the esoteric 'Roberdini' " on "The Magician," a neo-soul novelty that's likely to become a concert favorite. Then again, the same can be said for "How Would I Feel?" Here Roberson plays an insecure, guilt-ridden snoop: "How would I feel if she was going through my e-mails, searching through my phone." Guest vocalist Jean Baylor plays the offended party to the melodramatic hilt.

Laced with R&B, funk and hip-hop grooves, the album closes out with a pair of sharply contrasting standouts: "Try Love," a brassy and buoyant call to action, and the heartfelt piano ballad "All for Me."

--Mike Joyce, Sept. 30, 2011