Folk Rock For Our Times | Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz: Answers Belie (Baggage Room Records / 24 June 2023)

Folk Rock For Our Times
Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz: Answers Belie
(Baggage Room Records / 24 June 2023)

Folk rock is probably one of the more effective musical modes to respond to the way the world is moving these days. On Answers Belie, the latest release by Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz, the mood is darkly contemplative.

The duo take familiar elements and work them expertly and with a genuine sense of feeling that is the heart of the genre.

The lyrics and a sincere delivery mark A Slow Moving Nightmare. A classic folk rock sound and rich layers of instrumentation, including a nicely restrained slide guitar and harmony vocals, adds punch to the words and their lament at the state of the world.

Force of Old continues along the same road. 

Heard about a war to come
Heard it might be unlike wars of old
Heard it won’t be civil
Heard it might be hot or cold.

Folk turns more rock in Long Ol Civil War, with a hypnotic edge that carries the message pleading for an end. It's a reimagining and updating of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

The Hardest Lessons turns to personal matters lyrically, speaking of the wisdom of hindsight. 

The hardest lesson's been you, my love...

The title track features a gorgeous organ sound underneath the layers of vocals, harmony, and other instrumentation. It's a meditation on life, and its elusive meaning.

Eric Anders explains the lyrics behind the song Answers Belie in a media release.

"The title track is about how the answers we’ve had to life’s big questions often disguise/reveal our deepest uncertainties and fears. In his poem, “The Second Coming,” Yeats writes “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” The “answers” that the worst hold so tight to not only belie their fear and insecurity; they are also the foundation for their passionately intense violence against those who are otherwise."

If a lighter musical mood is to be found on the release, it's in Eyes, A Child, Bedside, with an upbeat mandolin, but the story behind the lyrics is not so bright. According to the liner notes, it's Eric’s ode to his maternal grandfather, a Harley-riding CHiP who developed MS, and ended up spending nearly the last two decades of her life confined to bed in their living room. It's an essential critique of the state of the American medical system, which abandons even those who've paid their dues in public service.

The release ends with I Hope Time Will Be Kind, a ballad-esque song with a personal message of hope. It's a song Eric sings to his three children.

It's the 8th album for this prolific (4 EP's and 5 singles) Bay-area duo.

Personnel: Eric Anders - Vocals; Mark O’Bitz - Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Organ, Piano; Mike Butler - Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Bass, Piano, Keyboards, Organ, Percussion; Ben Moore - Keys; John O'Reilly Jr. - Drums; Jenn Grinels - Backing Vocals