Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jeffrey Gaines-Jeffrey Gaines (1992)


My easy-listening soul music journeys continued today with a truly magnificent singer who had piqued some interest many moons ago: Jeffrey Gaines. Had his name saved on my recommendations list with the intention to get around to him eventually. Seemed that I had already listened to his music before, but when I realized none of his albums were present in my library, I concluded that his name being so similar to artists whom I previously have listened to—British soul singer, Geoffrey Williams; Canadian singer Jacques Gaines, who fronted the 90's r&b group SOUL ATTORNEYS; and more recently, Rosie Gaines, who came to my attention in the aftermath of the passing of the legendary Prince—is what led to that momentary hint of déjà vu. But all familiarity soon dissipated the moment I tuned in the opening track to Jeffrey's self-titled debut, "Hero In Me". Already in the first few seconds of this song, I was delighted by the acoustic guitar groove and his distinctively husky voice. Though it was when I started getting into this song's interesting lyrics— ' there's got to be some hero in me ' being one line from the chorus that struck me—that I determined this guy was another one of those highly respected, conceptual artists whose colorful ideas on relationships, personal struggles and life altogether totally allow you to get deep into the songwriter's mind. It was the follow-up mid-tempo, alternative soft rock piece, "Scares Me More", when I got my first inklings that this album was leading down a rather dark album whose theme is about a haunted man who's surely dealt with a lot of heartache and suffering through the years. The way he wails the repeated 'scares me, scares me, scares me' as the song reaches the end affected me in some way. "I Didn't Want To Be Daddy": the title had already grabbed my attention, making me wanting to find out just why he didn't want to be a father to the child. A man too young and not prepared for responsibility—a haunting image indeed. It became my second favorite following "Hero In Me", appreciating the overall sound highlighted by the extended instrumentals during the midway point. "Love Disappears" captured my senses with the quiet, slow acoustic guitar and piano in the beginning setting the tone for an empty, desolate place that Jeffrey seems to be heading into all throughout the song. ' When you're not here, love disappears ', he says, and it's a nice touch to have those final words trail off as the song fades out, almost as if metaphorically, that love is still disappearing into a state of nothingness. "A Dark Love Song": this title grabs my attention, too, prompting me to ask, ' What's dark about this love song? '. That same soft acoustic guitar featured in the introductory movement to "Love Disappears" creates the lonely, desolate setting for this one as well as he sings about being trapped and unable to break free, having a disease he'll bear to stay in love, being in the long chain of fools, people being slaves for love, being bruised but ready to love..... Then almost as if it was like the final nail in the coffin—love's death, as it were—the final deep tone of the piano key is the very last thing heard. "No, I Don't Think So": the third song whose title grabbed my attention is Jeffrey's own-to-earth way of confessing how some people in only dwell on the pain and the negativity (which is an issue that applies to all areas of life, in fact), the ' don't think so ' referring to him not ever seeing the woman again. Definitely one of his best vocal performances on his album! "Choices": an excellent offering where Jeffrey takes a stand and boasts loud and clear, ' It's my mind and my body, so leave my choices alone! ' . "Sorry The Very Next Day" became the fourth whose title provoked and had me conjuring up questions. ' Who's the one who's sorry? ' It appeared this acoustic guitar gem was about either his father or a very good male friend of his, taking into account his words about that special person being six feet tall and talking about girls at a younger age. Wishing someone to be out of your life, but then quickly wishing that they were still there with you—one of life's biggest regrets. "Headmasters Of Mine": this album's final selection sees Jeffrey wowing me again with the stunning vocal performance he delivers here while his words of the blind leading the blind and molding an innocent mind leaving much food for thought during and afterwards. There is, however, a ray of sunlight cast within this dark soul journey: "What It Is". The emotions are more positive and upbeat this time around, as Jeffrey searches for the one thing that keeps him loving the woman and wondering if she's alright; to phrase the title to a memorable ROXETTE hit from the 80's, it must've been love:

1. Hero In Me
2. Scares Me More
3. I Didn't Want To Be Daddy
4. Love Disappears
5. Fear
6. A Dark Love Song
7. Why?
8. No, I Don't Think So
9. Choices
10. What It Is
11. Sorry The Very Next Day
12. Headmasters Of Mine

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