Thursday, February 8, 2018

Welcome Back, Jeffrey Gaines

Jeffrey Gaines' 1992 debut was a favorite of mine. It's almost unfathomable that it is over 25 years old. Isn't Jeffrey Gaines this brilliant new singer/songwriter?  I blame myself for losing track. I was in the throes of my new record shop when Gaines released his follow-up, and for most of the 90's and early 2000's, the quality of my listening was at an all time low. Too many CDs, all the time. I simply lost track.

Now it's 2018 and Chris Price, the man behind Emitt Rhodes' excellent return to recording, and the man who released his own brilliant record, "Stop Talking," one of my very favorites of 2017, has come through again by producing Jeffrey Gaines' return to recording, after an almost 15 year lay off. "Alright" has arrived and even though it is only February, 2018 is going to be hard-pressed to deliver a record as solid as this one.

Gaines sounds better than ever on this set of tunes, that at times feels as if it might have been the perfect follow-up to his debut.  Both "Bjorn Toulouse" and "Thick And Thin" are perfect pop tunes that would have been all over MTV when it mattered. "Children's Games" is, in a word, gorgeous. And both "Promise Of Passion" and "Seems To Me" are songs Elvis Costello would have been proud to have written in his prime.

This is one of those records that demands your time. For me, it unraveled beautifully and got better with each pass. Welcome back, Jeffery and thanks Chris Price, for another winner.


FD13NYC said...

Pretty good, nice tunes. He certainly sounds like Elvis Costello.

Patrick "Phos...." Martin said...

Went to see J.G. on Friday 2 Feb 2018 for his CD release gig in his (our) hometown of Harrisburg PA. I'd seen him perform at least a dozen, dozen-and-a-half times since the late ’80s, and he's still a great performer. His projection swings between gentle and ferocious, always infused with a deep soulfulness found in few singers past or present. The comparison to Elvis Costello is apt, as Jeff reveres him.
Even though I pretty much expected a solo show, I can't say I wasn't a little disappointed not hearing him perform with a full band. I think it would have kept him a little more focused. He's a fun stage presence, telling amusing stories either about his songs, or just musing about weird stuff that has happened to him...he clearly felt at home on the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center's stage, seeing lots of friends and fans in the room he has known or been acquainted with for many years, and within his between song banter would make references to things only us hometown fans would know about and understand. He was playful with his audience, gamely taking stabs at songs he hadn't played in years, or never played, and which were a little fuzzy in the guitar and lyrics department. And this is where I think being backed by a full band would have kept him focused. While I enjoyed the intimate feeling of his solo performance, I think I would have preferred a tighter, fuller sounding set.
And as an aside, in case any people from HMAC are reading along here...y'all need to step up your game in the Stage on Herr room. That's two weekends in a row where the mix just wasn't up to snuff. I walked all around the room both weekends and couldn't find a single place where the room's natural revereration chacteristics were filled in and taken advantage of properly. Maybe it sounded perfect up in the catbird's seat, but down on the floor, the mixes were "Meh."


What a good record!

Thanks Sal

Rodger Stroup said...

Just gave the CD a listen, and I'm hooked after the first pass through. I'm ready to go back to the debut.

Thanks for giving us the tip on "Alright," Sal!