Erik Hartley
Gig Seeker Pro

Erik Hartley

Santa Barbara, California, United States | SELF

Santa Barbara, California, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""...A good old fashioned (blue-eyed) soul singer.""

by Kevin Mathews

The purest performance of a song, is simply the interplay between one voice and one instrument. This kind of austere expression is often the litmus test of a song’s quality, where artifice of instrumentation and arrangements are removed to lay bare the essence of a song i.e. words and music. Within rock music circles, such stripped down musical presentation is normally associated with folk music – the most common example being Bob Dylan’s earliest recordings, of course. However, in this instance, with singer-songwriter Erik Hartley, the choice of genre is old school rhythm and blues, in particular, Motown, blues and funk. Which is a unique proposition indeed.

As an artist in his own right, Hartley describes himself as “an old soul” and credits inspiration from classic singer-songwriters like Marvin Gaye, James Taylor and John Lennon. However, while the trio of songs on this EP certainly references the former duo, the lack of a rock edge makes the Lennon influence difficult to detect. Hartley’s use of classic pop soul in this format does suggest that these song recordings are more demos than the final product, a challenge of perception that Hartley would have to overcome in order for these tracks not to be written off merely as unfinished material.

In modern parlance, “I Know” would draw immediate recognition for the musical similarity to the type of modern pop-jazz-soul numbers popularized by the likes of Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson and John Mayer. In that respect, there is nothing too special about the song that could conceivably cause “I Know” to rise above these throwaway comparisons. As mentioned earlier, without the safety net of instrumentation and arrangements, it would be difficult for the casual listener to return to the song a second time to divine its qualities, which will not be discernible upon initial listening. The main strength of “I Know” is in Hartley’s heartfelt delivery, both vocally and instrumentally. The fact that it ends on a major chord is a nice touch as well.

“Kisses in the Rain” is without doubt the strongest track on this EP. Fans of 60s blues-rock will thrill to its obvious debt to the late great Jimi Hendrix (“Little Wing” comes to mind). Arguably, while the melody is a little lackluster, it serves the sexy lyrical concept well enough (“let me see those hips of yours/shake a little bit for me”), wherein Marvin Gaye’s lover man persona is maximized without resorting to the vulgarities of modern day rap/hip hop. Again, Hartley’s stellar performance is its main draw, his guitar playing is the hook that will persuade listeners to leave the track on repeat mode. A full band version of “Kisses in the Rain” would no doubt be interesting and much welcomed.

The upbeat closer, “This Old Ride” simply begs to be given the full band treatment. With an irresistible rhythm easily perceptible even with just an acoustic guitar, one can certainly imagine grooving to a crack rhythm section carrying this track in full flight. Which can get frustrating as although Hartley, as always, sings and plays the song perfectly, the lack of instrumentation begins to grate and disappoint somewhat. Hartley’s vocals on “This Old Ride” clearly demonstrates his potential as a good old fashioned (blue-eyed) soul singer – the man has a great set of pipes on him!

It is hard to evaluate whether these “unplugged” versions are artistic choices or merely sample teasers for the main event to come. One can certainly imagine the songs here as bonus acoustic versions of proper album tracks. Certainly, greater impact would be achieved on Hartley’s behalf if the first exposure to his music was in a full band context and not these “inferior” demo-like recordings. There is much promise here and hopefully, Hartley’s full-length album will deliver on this reasonable expectation. - Power of Pop

""...A masterpiece of eclectic styles...""

by Zach Daggy

Erik Hartley is one of the greatest singers of all-time! Well, okay maybe not of all-time, but certainly in recent years. His album Roll Out of Bed is a masterpiece of eclectic styles that complement his soulful voice and well-crafted lyrics. It’s the type of album that’s ready to skyrocket up the Billboard charts, and that is no exaggeration! His voice is stunning to say the least. If girls are crazy about Bruno Mars, then they are going to be head over heels when they listen to Hartley. The heat that radiates off of his sheer charisma could melt the icecaps.

His song “Kisses in the Rain” is evidences enough of that. With vocals as smooth as velvet and sensual lyrics that could give Barry White a run for his money, this song was made for the perfect romantic night. Perhaps what most gives Hartley his “it factor” is the incredible amount of soul that he carries in his voice. While he seems the most comfortable singing in the pop/rock genre, he has the vocal talent of a veteran R&B singer. In the song “Miss You,” he sounds like a man raised on Motown. His voice is soulful and full of unfiltered raw emotions. While every one of the songs off of Roll Out of Bed features superb vocals, it’s the song “So Much More” that truly lets Hartley’s voice shine. It’s an acoustic ballad a bit in the style of Jack Johnson. Not only does this song set the focus on Hartley’s soulful vibes, but also it allows his voice to truly soar.

The music of Roll Out of Bed is an eclectic mix. The songs “Let Me Be” and “So Much More” feature acoustic melodies that while simple, add a much need layer of intimacy. Other songs like “Not Yet” and “Cant Stay for Dinner” reach back a couple decades for some authentic 90’s vibes. Melodically they are on par with tracks release at the time by Third Eye Blind and Train. “Cant Stay for Dinner” in particular is rich with hook-laced melodies. If any song off of Roll Out of Bed is more deserving of shooting up the charts, it’s this song. Just one listen and you’ll immediately know why this song has “single” written all over it. If pop/rock ballads aren’t your thing, don’t worry. The song “Miss You” captures the spirit of gospel, “I Know (Selfishness)” dips into the reggae pool, and “Blue Whiskey” features and utterly fantastic blues guitar solo. There’s something for everyone on Roll Out of Bed.

The lyrics featured throughout Roll Out of Bed range from raw emotions of love and loss to tongue in cheek lightheartedness. On the deeper end of the spectrum is the song “Not Yet.” This is a song about not being able to move on from someone that has long since moved on from you. It paints the picture of a man attending the wedding of an ex that he’s still very much in love with. As he sees her walking down the aisle, he realizes that he’s not yet ready to let her go. The song is sad yet bitter sweet. The way it’s written it’s incredibly easy to relate to main character of this song. Everyone has there own “one that got away.” On the flip side of the spectrum is “Treehouse.” On the surface this song seems innocent enough. With its lighthearted Jack Johnson vibes and talk of passwords and climbing ladders, it easily conjures up childhood memories. Dig a little deeper though and you’ll find that building a treehouse has never felt so naughty. With lines like “you can nail any wood that you want” and talk of staying the night, it’s easy to get the not so subtle innuendos. This is just a fun little song, and a nice break from some of the heavier songs about heartbreak, like “Not Yet” and “Let Me Be.” This album really creates a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Roll Out of Bed has it all. Erik Hartley has the voice and style of a superstar. He sings songs of passion, emotion and occasionally a bit of tongue in cheek. He’s ready for the big leagues. He’s ready to compete against the likes of Bruno Mars, John Mayer and Train. Bring them on!

Review by Zack Daggy
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5) - The Mothpod

""...Inner turmoil as a walking stick toward a musical vista...""

by Nick DeRiso

Erik Hartley can’t decide about things, and that uncertainty creates an interesting tension on the new EP Not Me Being Nervous.

The in-joke ends up being that he’s anything but “not nervous.” Hartley, instead, couldn’t be less settled, with looming questions about girls, about life, about getting back some piece of himself after the day’s many small indignities.

No surprise, then, that the Boston-based guitarist works alone here, fashioning a sound that’s somewhere between the me-generation singer-songwriter genre of the 1970s and a lightly grooved Motown sound.

These are talks best held with oneself, in the confessional style of Marvin Gaye and John Lennon. Hartley isn’t afraid to do that, and luckily he flips a switch on the recorder along the way.

“I Know,” from which Hartley’s three-song release gets its title, is one of those internal conversations. Here, he’s a guy trying to let go of a bad relationship, and not having much luck: “OK, so maybe I’m just acting out,” Hartley sings, over an uncertain solo guitar signature. “You can come in, but you stay on the couch.”

Hartley’s got a sugar-smoke voice that sells both the lazy romance, and the deeper pain, of this lyric.

Even when things seem to be breaking his way, however, Hartley remains the reluctant troubadour, loath to let go.

“Kisses in the Rain,” which opens with a riff reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” finds Hartley’s character lost in a late-night dance. The jukebox light illuminates just how far gone he is with this mysterious, brown-eyed wayfarer. “I was waiting on the kisses in the rain,” he sings and it almost sounds like a lament, “because I know that you’ll be back again.”

Hartley suggests skipping the dancing all together, forgetting about the games. It’s easy to see how things might go a different way, however, with Hartley’s character again left alone. His languid vocal, and quietly vacillating strums, betray a kind of here-we-go again resignation, even during a new relationship’s bright sensual beginnings.

“This Old Ride,” meanwhile, quickly settles into a quickening pace as Hartley grows impatient in the empty bustle of a party that’s lasted a bit too long. “I’m wondering, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’,” Hartley sings, though the answers don’t come easy.

So, it’s off to the car. Images flash by, as he heads out. He considers stopping at a bar, but doesn’t. Before long, he realizes that he’s most at home settled back in front of that dashboard glow, grasping the wheel and travelling. Hartley’s character clings to that isolation, to that indecision, and mulls things over to the point of then turning it into a conversation about why he can’t decide, setting a theme that defines Not Me Being Nervous.

Hartley is determined to take this world’s modern ennui and turn it into a meaningful dialogue. It’s a twist on that old saw about seizing the day.

With Not Me Being Nervous, Hartley uses his inner turmoil as a walking stick toward a musical vista. He’s not sure where he’s headed, but he’s enjoying this journey.

Call it Erik Hartley’s carpe-don’t-know moment. - SOMETHING ELSE!


Roll Out of Bed (LP; Orangehart Records) 2011
Kisses in the Rain (Single; Orangehart Records) 2011
Can't Stay for Dinner (Single; Orangehart Records) 2010
Not Me Being Nervous (EP; Orangehart Records) 2010
Boston Sessions Remaster (EP; Orangehart Records) 2007



Recently licensed for MTV's "Teen Wolf," "Warren the Ape," and "World of Jenks," VH1's "Tough Love," and all of Discovery Networks, Erik Hartley’s songwriting is intriguingly different than most. Often expressing cynical optimism at the end of a sour relationship, he creates moving melodies and complex lyricism, painting stories that develop a conflicting romantic atmosphere. Every song becomes an auditory, emotional contradiction that is strangely relatable, and it is through this amalgamation that he produces something real and tangible, allowing each new listener to immerse themselves into their own perspective.

You can hear the Detroit influences of Motown, blues, and funk in all of Erik's music despite his more traditional Rock categorization. And while every song has its own reflection, the essence of songwriters from the 1960's and 70's is always present in both the music and lyricism.

Developed through years of writing and performing, Erik has begun to expand his style with the help of gifted friends and musicians, reaching an ever-growing audience to countries across the world.