Title - Year of Pain
Artist - Robert Stoner
For those unaware, Robert Stoner is a singer-songwriter from Berkeley, CA who has written and performed music for many years, and now with the help of producer Ben Bernstein is set to release his debut album Year of Pain on July 9th, 2021.
Stoner, who also goes by Bob, wrote and recorded Year of Pain over the last year and this impressively strong debut showcases his personal and nuanced grappling with issues ranging from the specific challenges of children growing up and keeping a marriage fresh, to the trials and tribulations of our modern times.
The songs on Year of Pain run the gamut from personal reflections on kids moving on in life (Just a Riverboat) or relationship difficulties (Wait Until the Morning) to commentary on the present state of ethics in the political realm (The Principle) and the difficulties that have become ingrained in our modern era (Year of Pain).
The song that leads off the album (Just a Riverboat) and the song that ends it (the title track Year of Pain) each hold special significance for Bob.
Just a Riverboat reflects on the time his daughter Lily went off to college back East by way of a trip to New Orleans with friends. It was an exciting moment and an important milestone in her life, and the New Orleans imagery provided the perfect backdrop for the song.
Year of Pain is a song that sums up the difficult times we live in, with political dysfunction, gun deaths, and growing intolerance leading the list.
1. Just a Riverboat
2. The Principle
3. Holy Grail
4. Out of Time
5. Head in the Sand
6. Wait Until the Morning
7. Rain Wash Away
8. Hear Their Voices
9. Year of Pain
This rather delightful new album opens with the magnificently dulcet, seamlessly flowing Just a Riverboat and the reflective The Principle and backs those up with the Simon & Garfunkel-esque Holy Grail, the gently upbeat Out of Time and then the beautiful summers breeze of Head in the Sand.
Next up is the psych-imbed gossamer of Wait Until the Morning, which is itself followed by the low key ballad Rain Wash Away, and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the lo-fi storytelling of Hear Their Voices, with the album coming to a close on the recounting of difficulties we have all felt recently within Year of Pain.
The brother of a professional violinist in New York City, Robert Stoner comes from a very musical family (one of his cousins even won the Tchaikovsky Competition in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, to great national acclaim).
Despite the fact Year of Pain is his debut release, Bob Stoner is a prolific songwriter who has been writing songs his whole life, and he is already hard at work on his next release. My songs seem to come in a pretty constant stream, says Bob. Songwriting to me is an ongoing process of listening, discovery, fleshing out of ideas, honing and sharpening, and trying to maintain or enhance the original creative energy through the production phase.
Maintaining a day job as an economist means the songwriting process has not always been straightforward for Bob, but the left and right sides of his brain have fully coalesced on Year of Pain, resulting in a musical experience that is both provocative and enjoyable for the listener.
He worked with Ben Bernstein at Ben Bernstein Music to produce the album, and Ben also contributed lead and electric guitar to the songs. Year of Pain also features vocal and instrumental contributions from singer-songwriter Maya Elise, and drums and percussion from Mike Stevens.
Adding to the personal nature of the album is the artwork painted by Bobs daughter Lily Stoner, who also contributed vocals on the release.
Official Purchase Links
Rob Stoner @ Facebook