Occupied is full of the type of ensemble-focused soul-blues music that puts the singer and the song up front and eschews long guitar solos. Jerardi focuses on the greater impact of the big picture and lets the lyrics, grooves, and horns carry the day rather than just blasting out guitar licks and it makes all the difference. Fans and artists both often forget that the blues and its progeny are all vocal music, first and foremost. The voice is the call and the guitar is the response. Eric is clearly a fine guitarist but the restraint and maturity in his overall style is what makes this such a great record.
Jerardi immediately begins schooling us on the opening track “Do Right By Him.” The song is a heartfelt slow jam that pulls listeners closer to listen to his tale of loss and tribulations in a moment when most artists would be trying to blow people away with energy and intensity. Jerardi’s guitar slips and slashes in between the beautiful tones of the Muscle Shoals horns and adds some grit to their smooth brilliance. Here and throughout the album, Jerardi’s lyrics are honest and real, not full of clichés and jive, and it’s easy to feel the emotions in every line he sings. *By Mike O’Cull