Let’s talk dating for a quick beat, okay? You’ve both swiped right, shared some smile-worthy messages and decide to meet for tea one evening after work to test the waters. You get there, he’s a bit cuter in person and the date is going surprisingly well. As you both try to figure out if a kiss goodbye is “moving too fast” (it isn’t), you simultaneously tell yourself that you could see yourself with this guy. And is that a bad thing? You want love. You need love. Unfortunately, the subsequent dates are lackluster and you begin to lose interest. Now, the beginning that seemed stratospherically promising has melted into a dull, disappointing fade to black.
Steven A. Clark’s single “Not You” is the ultimate anthem for people who want to be coupled up but are realizing the person they are with just isn’t the one. It’s even more heartbreaking to listen to this song if you recognize that you are the person Clark wrote the song about. It’s a song with a certain honesty that could make you get misty eyed even on a good day. As you wipe away your own tears, you stop and wonder which end of the spectrum Clark was on when he was inspired to write this song.
“I was the giver,” Clark tells me via email. “I was just overwhelmed by factors outside of the relationship. I thought those things were more important, but they weren’t.”
This song was my introduction to Clark’s music and became completely enamored with the September 2015 release of The Lonely Roller, a 10-track album, which Clark describes as lonely, honest and freeing, speaks volumes about the fairly normal but equally exhausting emotional conflict many of us experience in our lives. Not being able to love someone, wanting to love someone but not the person in front of you, wanting to be loved but feeling rejected. Yeah. This album addresses all of that minus any Top 40 sap.
Click inside for more including an exclusive playlist Steven A. Clark made just for Thursday’s Journal!
On “She’s In Love,” we get a follow-up of sorts to “Not You” which provides us a glimpse into the dynamic of a duo where one person is left trapped on the wrong side of happiness. Depending on how you interpret the song, it can be tough to determine which party is trapped but it’s safe to say that someone is getting the short end of the stick. After giving his album a thorough listen, you might be surprised to know he thinks Pharrell’s “Frontin'” is “like the best song ever made.”
Sure, Clark’s storytelling has room for growth but considering how dope he is already, the future doesn’t seem as heartbreaking as the relationships he sings about. With him putting so much of himself into The Lonely Roller, I had to know how creating this record informed Clark’s opinion on his love life.
“I learned that love and relationships are more important than music. They inspire the music.”
There’s a surge of Black musicians embracing and crushing a more alternative R&B sound that has a tinge of the 80’s interlaced with equal amounts of soul as you’d find on any classic Marvin Gaye record. Don’t believe me? Just take a listen to this playlist Clark put together for us which includes some essentials songs you’d need to hear if you want to better understand where his mind was during the process of making The Lonely Roller. You’ll hear classics like Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.”