Porlolo is the closest thing you will get to a murder between lovers. And while none of it has to do with anything physical, Erin Roberts’ dark folk infusion can be violent in its exploration of emotions and everything murky, watery and mysterious.
In some ways, Porlolo is the sum total of Erin Roberts’ journey. But, I assure you, none of her parts have to do with murder. Still, undoubtedly, she’ll make you wonder about her lovers.
For while Roberts came to Denver with a trumpet in-hand and a cultivated musical background to-boot, music wasn’t her explicit aim. Rather, her gait seemed to carry her straight into this endeavor – as if it were, (and I know, I hate to say it, but) fate. Because while I don’t mean to overplay this word, fate, I know of no other way to describe the line that Roberts has found herself on.
The long and short of it reads like this: It began simply with a guitar and a four-track. Then some gigs appeared where she was nearly thrust onto the stage, whether she wanted to or not. Nerves and terror and all. Then Public Service Records was in need of some music and turned to Roberts – host of Radio 1190’s Local Shakedown, where she obliged and reached into her tuneful ear and turned-out some work. Shortly after, Roberts was on her way to South by Southwest, with a band and all. And then, a split-EP with Roger Green. And now, her first full-length, self-titled album.
On the surface Roberts’ work sounds like an incurable pessimist lamenting about anything feeling. But no, Erin Roberts is not so much an enigma. Sure, Porlolo is feeling and dark, watery and mysterious. But Roberts’ songs are also about a world of possibility.
Almost literary in her ability to carry you up and off your feet, Roberts possesses a clear talent to create moments. Moments of realization. Most notably, those moments where you are unalterably floating toward the sunlight of a new day, when all you can beg for is a little more time. A little more dark of night. To hide. To escape. From love and everything tormenting.
And what about that murder between lovers thing that I alluded to in the beginning? Well, it comes out in Roberts’ lyrics. In “Saw Your Head Off”, she sings, “Maybe I’ll write you a song/Maybe I’ll write a letter/Maybe I will saw your head off/Maybe I will do better” proving that Roberts has apparently not traveled her wind-torn path without being scarred.
Yes, she’s no greater than you and I. And if you listen close-enough, she’ll tell you as much.
In my best estimation, Porlolo is that moment of a voiceless, controlled scream wherein you know that this jail-breaking effort will require more than you are capable of; and more than what you carried on your back. Maybe a halo, or something holy.
To pull from Roberts’ lyrical bag: Maybe that “something” is built of wood. So you could hear, feel, see and walk like you could.
And while her work is not quickly to be received as a work that strives to meet the invisible American happiness quota, Porlolo’s work is more of a proclamation of everything torn and worn and sad, and beat-up. But herein lays that delicate balance of the redemptive and the weary – it’s that time and space where your standing in a place you never have known and a horn kicks-up and blows through the breezy swamps all around you, with half-trees reaching only partially up and out of everything dark and murky below.
But don’t be confused. Porlolo is not about everything slow and throaty and sullen. No, Roberts has her share of upbeat, caring, and organic pieces that are sure to get heels-a-clicking all around any dusty midnight room.
Honestly, Roberts’ songwriting is quirky. But it is also poignant and punchy. And while her arrangements are admittedly dark – don’t let this fool you. Sometimes, in standing over a pool of black water, it’s not always about what’s below the surface, and lurking in the silent darkness. No, sometimes it’s about that shimmery oil that swirls on the surface, reflecting back that perfect image of the only thing that counts.