Monday, September 10, 2012

Jeffrey Gaines 1: Jeffrey Gaines

The singer-songwriter had his work cut out for him (or her) in the early ‘90s—write songs that cut to the heart of the matter, and be sincere about it. Jeffrey Gaines supposedly gave up a chance to front any of a handful of bands to pursue his own dreams, which he’s still doing today.
Everybody has to start with a self-titled album, and Jeffrey Gaines pretty much presents what he had to offer. His live shows at the time were showcases for his songwriting, with a song or two that weren’t on the album, and a certain arrangement of a cover that would stick him in a slot for the duration.
Not all of the album is a lament for failed relationships, but those are the songs that stand out. “Love Disappears” is as vivid as it gets, expressing the doubt in a relationship described in “What It Is” and ends with “No, I Don’t Think So”. What does emerge from the program is the pro-choice debate, as spelled out in “Didn’t Wanna Be Daddy” and “Choices”. The fatherhood conundrum is explored even deeper in “Sorry The Next Day”.
Jeffrey Gaines has a husky, full voice that owes an acknowledged debt to Elvis Costello and other singer-songwriters, balanced with a delicate acoustic touch around the usual chords but with fingerpicked variations. That’s what songs like “Hero In Me”—his own theme song, if he has one—“Scares Me More” and “Headmasters Of Mine” have to make them so memorable: emotion, passion and expertise.
His approach was mostly acoustic, so thankfully there’s not much in the production that gets in the way of the songs. There is a rhythm section on most tracks, with some coloration, but the most elaborate embellishments come from his own harmonies. That’s what’s made his live performances so engaging—he simply plays the songs, chats up the crowd, and finds levels upon which he can expand. He’s managed to do it for twenty years, and if anything, success hasn’t come close to spoiling him.

Jeffrey Gaines Jeffrey Gaines (1992)—
Current CD availability: none, download only

1 comment:

  1. Still impressed he played Krokus and Rush when I saw him tour for this album at Toad's with a couple dozen others. Still one of the most memorable shows I've seen.