Eric Bénet is on top of the world these days. The R&B soul singer/songwriter/producer is sounding strong, romantic and full of joy on his aptly titled new effort, 'The One'.
They say home is where the heart is, and Eric returned to his Milwaukee, Wisconsin roots to record his Friday/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records CD 'Love & Life'. Collaborating with his longtime production partner Demonte Posey and writer/producer/cousin George Nash, Jr., Eric completely opened his heart and soul with this decidedly organic production, exercising complete creative control over for the first time in his career. Co-writing and producing eleven of the twelve tracks with his partners, "musically and creatively, it’s just as I envisioned it. I wanted to make a record that was a good feeling R&B record, and some of the best R&B for me growing up had a dash of gospel, a couple dashes of jazz. You could feel the social consciousness and you could feel where the artist was in their life. Whatever challenges, victories, blessings that I’m presently experiencing and the fruit of all that, are the songs that I write." Having fun through the entire process, Eric’s sustained motivation from experiencing love and living life can be heard skillfully weaved throughout every album track.
We fell in love with Eric Bénet on his 1999 debut 'True to Myself' featuring the Grammy nominated 'Spend My Life With You' along with hits including 'Femininity', 'Spiritual Thang' and 'Let's Stay Together'. We weathered the storm with him on his 2005 album 'Hurricane'. Now, 'Love & Life' reflects the Eric Bénet that feels confident and celebratory about his approach toward happy living. "There’s an energy and feeling that you get from the whole record. The journey is mine, but there’s no one who can’t relate."
The groovy, familiar first single, 'You’re the Only One' materialized from a good old fashioned jam session. As the piano laden backdrop meets the synthesized harmony of this soulful melody, Eric speaks of time being the determining factor of a love meant to be. Not necessarily propelled by overt innuendo - authenticity, emotion and passion have always been the driving forces in Eric’s creative process and unconditional love, whether familial or romantic, lays at its foundation.
Eric carefully staggers his sensual fascination and introspective admiration with women throughout 'Love & Life'. 'Chocolate Legs' is a telling homage to the power that a woman provides for her man by simply wrapping herself around him. Produced by Keith Crouch and Jubu, Eric speaks of the airy, slow jam as fun to sing. "One of the things that reminds me that God has my back is that real love connection with whoever is in my life. And if my woman is loving me unconditionally and giving her body, soul and spirit to me, it gives me this feeling like I can go and handle things another day."
Perhaps the most personal record on Love & Life is a mid-tempo, electronic number entitled 'Still I Believe.' As Eric carefully narrates being the villain and everything in between when it comes to love, "I’ve been the angel / Been the beast / I’ve been confused and had clarity," and with all of the extremities that transpire in relationships, hope and love still remain. "The odds are like one in a million that you’re going to find the right person at the right time in your life. In spite of the odds, I still believe that it’s possible."
Similarly 'Love Patience Time' speaks of a familiar perseverance through the struggles of life. "Whatever fate deals you, stay focused, stay present and stay grateful. You’re going to receive all the blessings that you need to get to the place in life where you are happy longer and more often."
Much of Eric’s musical and personal motivation stems from his most important inspiration, his 16-year-old daughter India. "There are so many things that I’ve done where I was thinking let me do what’s best for her, and had she had not been there, I may have done taken the wrong path on many occasions. As a single parent, there was no other way than to keep it together for India". 'One More Tomorrow,' a moving ode to India’s birth, places 'Love & Life' in practical application. Written after witnessing her life come into existence, the proud papa decided to finally record the tribute. "It hit me like nothing ever hit me before where this feeling of if I didn’t know why I was born, I know now. This song says if I found out today that tomorrow was my last day, my daughter would be the person I want to spend that day with."
The retro dance jam 'Iminluvwichoo' reveals a light-hearted energy featuring Hungarian vocalist Linda Kiraly. The groove of the drums, coupled with the bass guitar, provide an 80’s feel that capsulates the kinetic connection of having fun in love. 'Don’t Let Go' is a love tribute decidedly for those couples who make it past the honeymoon period in their relationship. Influenced by early 90’s R&B in its sonic sensibilities, according to Eric, "there could be a life, a love and another level," if the relationship survives. On the flip side, 'The Hunger' aggressively speaks to the sexual, energetic part of a relationship. The melodic hand-claps emphasize the sensuality that Eric describes as "that physical attraction where you just can’t get enough of their essence, their body. I cannot be satiated, I just want more. That part where you can’t go home yet, the straight, raw hunger."
Diving even further into the seductive realm, 'Spanish Fly' is steeped with Latin rhythms and horns as the luring lyrics invite its young female listener to relax, relate and release. According to Eric, "this is just some ‘ol Latin pimp talk. Basically, I’m just coming from a pimp perspective of, why don’t you let me give this a try. Let me see if I can invite you back into the realm of carnal enjoyment."
It is abundantly clear through 'Love & Life' that Eric Bénet feels good, and it is magnifies from the inside out. As his journey to now continues to reflect the abundance he experiences, Eric wants his music to represent sheer honesty. "I want people to be able to discover some of the truths that I have and to feel the passion for life written between the lines and to just to put it pure and simply—to be moved by my music."