For Jeffrey Gaines, the release of “Alright,” his first album in 15 years, is the culmination of a body of work that has long established his standing as one of music’s most gifted songwriters, vocalists and performers.
“It took me so long to out a new record because I’ve only ever put out records with the administrative help of a record label,” said Gaines, from his suburban Philadelphia home. “So, if I don’t have a record deal, I don’t put a record out. That’s my old antiquated view point of it. You deliver something to the public when the public wants it. I love to be invited to have that opportunity.”
“The whole experience of making this album was just a joy from beginning to end,” added Gaines. “We didn’t have a lot of time, so there was no fooling around. We just went in and knocked it out. Everybody played great, so it was an inspiring situation. The musicians have similar influences to me, so we were all on the same page, and I picked the songs I thought would suit this group of musicians. It was cool to have a structure, but at the same time it was also loose and organic.”
Working alongside Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Chris Price, the ten-song album features a stellar roster of musicians: guitarist Val McCallum (Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams), bassist Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello, Cracker, John Hiatt), and drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Elliott Smith).
“I brought in this miraculous kid named Chris Price and then I brought in this dream band,” said Gaines. “When you get the opportunity and can get it done, for me, it’s like winning a shopping spree that only lasts for a period of time. The candy store’s open — get ready and go! You never know how long those grains of sand are in your favor.”
“I couldn’t be prouder to be involved in the making of this album,” said Chris Price in a press release. “We got a raw, immediate sound thanks to the incredible musicianship and killer vocal performances. Everyone showed up on their A-game, so nothing was left to chance. Not to mention the fact that Jeff wrote some fantastic tunes that worm their way into your head, and don’t have any intention of leaving.”
“I’m very pleased with the new album,” said Gaines. “Chris Price worked really hard to get a well-balanced record. I really benefitted from his ear and got a really good perspective. It’s really well balanced, actually radio balanced. I don’t know if it is headed for radio but we’d love to go there.”
Standout tracks include, “Feel Alright,” “Thick and Thin,” “I will be,” “Frowned Upon,” “Promise of Passion” and “Children’s Games.”
Hailing from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he laid the foundation for his burgeoning music career, Gaines’ relocation to Philadelphia proved to be the springboard he needed on his quest to gain national and international attention.
Signed to a recording contract with Chrysalis Records, Gaines released his self-titled debut in 1992. On the strength of the album’s single “Hero in Me,” Gaines earned well-deserved praise from rock and roll critics and a growing fan base.
His follow-up album releases “Somewhat Slightly Dazed” (1994), his last on the Chrysalis record label, and “Galore”(1998) furthered the cause and Gaines rapidly evolved into a musical force.
In 2001, Gaines released “Always Be,” spawning Gaines’ mesmerizing interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” a song that remains a staple of Gaines’ live show.
On the heels of his “Toward the Sun” (2003) album, Gaines captured the energy of his signature live show with a pair of albums, 2004’s CD/DVD Jeffrey Gaines Live and 2012’s Live in Europe.
“The biggest pleasure I derive from this is playing live,” said Gaines. “There’s nothing more satisfying for me than a good live gig. I’m in control, but the audience can take it to a place that’s higher than I can imagine. When I show up for a live gig, I don’t need much, there’s no rider. It’s just, turn it on, let the audience in, and we’ll do the rest. It’s the best job anyone could ever have.”
Beyond his solo performances and concert tours, Gaines has served as the opening act for artists such as, Sting, Stevie Nicks, Joe Jackson, Tracy Chapman and Melissa Etheridge, among others.
A realist when it comes to navigating his way through the peaks and valleys of the music business, Gaines remains optimistic taking his career path in stride.
“I am not even interested in being a household name, just enough of a name that people are listening to me,” said Gaines. “It’s a very interesting thing to find your pocket. I’ve got a lot of freedom right now and I have to enjoy that. I’m a bit under the radar. I could have a lot more, wide-open shows. I like to tour a lot and be a lot more known in a wider market. There are fans in a lot of markets across this great nation but it’s very hard to give them a show. It’s tough. I can get to your town with the record and you can put on your headphones and hold the music close. The thing with more success is that it allows you to do it more often in a more comfortable way.”
“Every now and then I’m blown away by artists that I’ve grown up listening to and then you meet them and they have an awareness of what you do,” adds Gaines. “You find out that they’re listening to your records, too. Meeting David Bowie and having him say, ‘Oh yes, you’ve been brought to my attention or Elvis Costello say ‘Yeah, I’m aware of you.’ That stuff is cool.”
There’s a spiritual nature and redemption to what I do,” said Gaines. “I’m a very free person and I think my nature relaxes other people. Come to the show, get loose and free themselves of tensions. As long as I feel that my audience is leaning forward with their body and their neck and they’re waiting to receive my music, that encourages me and I’m thankful each time that I get it. I am going to give you everything I got. I love doing it and I appreciate you.”