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Eric Contractor At Rockwood Music Hall 1, Saturday, February 18th, 2012

On his debut album, Night Escape, Eric Contractor is a Byronic creature, his gorgeous baritone sweeping through songs of lost love and wee small hours. Even the album cover finds him bathed in dark, moonlight blue, as mysterious as his deeply felt songs.

 In person, he looks like Clark Kent's kid brother, thin, gangly, awful young. It is 3pm and the light from the street makes the least mysterious of venues homey, and Eric in a jeans and a shirt is so casual we might well be in his living room. This is a problem but it is not a deadly problem. Eric must realize the incongruity so he shrugs it off and alone on stage with his acoustic, he relaxes into the set.I arrive maybe ten minutes later but within ten minutes, Contractor has brought to live two of his best songs, "Waiting For The Magic" and the relatively bright "Driving Down The Coast".

Though the songs feel built for piano, Contractor only turns to the piano once,  instead he finger picks his acoustic guitar with a calm, collegiate warmth strangely at odds with his music.

Does it work? Yeah, but not as well as it will,. Certainly, by the end of the set, a terrific "Only The Lonely" where he somehow manages to reach the high note and sings with enormous self-confidence, and a personal favorite I actually requested it) "Never Never".

Better still is "Prince Of The Night", a self portrait of sorts, hidden in loneliness and bathed in romance, it is a romantic night dream and a self-portrait of sorts. "I'm OK, I'm alright, but I'm lonely here tonight", Contractor claims. It is a mesmerizing song neatly built on a quasi-Flamenco lick and it achieves the suspension of disbelief he seems to be aiming for. The half-lit world of romance and loss at odds with the mid-afternoon and for awhile we buy in to his night-dreams.

Grade: B+

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