We are about to embark on a new journey with the Northern Californian singer-songwriter, Eric Anders, and the Southern Californian guitarist-composer, Mark O’Bitz, and their 7-song album, “Answers Belie.” I’ve got to warn you, it’s a melancholic journey, but with the duo’s musical prowess, passionate delivery, and heartwarming Folk sound, it’s undoubtedly worth it.

The splendid journey consists of three steps; with each step, we will be immersed in a particular theme that doesn’t only portray the brilliant pair’s ideas and experiences, but rather most of us. The themes are political, philosophical, and sentimental. You’ll find yourself mad and sad about your country, wondering about all the questions that have been crowded in your mind, remembering the love story that became a rough lesson, worrying about the future, and much more.

Amidst all these complex emotions, there’s a variety of well-crafted and performed musical compositions, with each instrument being well-placed, a mix of literary and reality-influenced lyricism, soul-stirring vocals, and flawless production by Mike Butler. Shall we begin the journey?

“A Slow Movin’ Nightmare” is the first of the three political songs, and Eric referred to it as “a dirge for American democracy.” It’s an intense start, but realistic. Also, it prepares you for what’s coming, as the following songs aren’t rays of sunshine either. However, the delicate guitar strings and soft percussion will go easy on you.

The two other political songs are “Force of Old” and “Long Ol’ Civil War.” You can clearly hear the disappointment, crashed dreams, and mere sadness in both Eric’s tuneful vocals and the musical composition that profoundly harmonizes with her performance. What the three songs have in common are the political theme, the expression of the weight that people can’t bear, the well-crafted Folk sound, melancholic but gradually trying to be dynamic instrumentals and haunting vocals.

“The Hardest Lesson” is the first sentimental song, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s about that person who you thought was the one, only to turn out they are a cruel, heart-shattering lesson. It has bitter, poetic lyrics, sentimental, wistful vocals, and lighthearted instrumentals. You can notice the shift from sounding worried and frustrated to sounding heartbreaking and luring. The backing vocals are notable in all of the songs, but in this song in particular, they add a soulful feeling and enhance the weary emotions.

The title track, “Answers Belie” is the philosophical song as well as the most relatable one on the album. The thought-provoking lyricism feels like a page from every human being’s diary. The swaying composition creates an irresistible soundscape, and the resonating vocals will make you feel like you’re the one who’s wondering right now, “Can we ever really know are we acting out of time?”

“Eyes, A Child, Bedside” begins with a pleasant intro, which is followed by Eric’s grateful, delightful vocal line. It’s an ode from Eric to his maternal grandfather, which makes the output nostalgic, cozy, and yearning. It’s one of the songs that shows the versatility and sincerity of the duo.

The album closes off with “I Hope Time Will Be Kind,” which is also very relatable. It conveys the fear of getting old, which is a universal dark feeling. What is personal is Eric’s fear for his children to grow up in such a messy world with everything only getting worse. The piano notes are impassioned and have a dramatic sense that aligns with the troubled yet dulcet vocals. It’s quite an ending!

Well, we’ve reached the end of the three-step journey. I think now I’ll leave you to process the tense emotions, introspective ideas, and polished musicianship. Once you are ready, you’ll hit the play button again and enjoy the album’s distinct listening experience all over again.