For singer/songwriter Jeffrey Gaines, the connection his music makes with his listeners is of paramount importance. "I make records just so I can tour and get to the audience," he explains. In fact, he says his new album, Always Be, "is made up of love songs to the live gig - they're love songs to the audience and the exchange that we have."
That bond between Gaines and his fans is so strong that while he was between record labels, a live recording of Gaines doing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," a longtime staple of his performances, became a popular number on several major radio stations. Now with the release of Always Be on Artemis Records, Gaines offers a studio version of the song, along with a cover of Scottish folk singer Ewan MacColl's classic, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Such well-known tunes neatly fit alongside originals by Gaines, which he says are "character sketches. They're filled with the characters, the different personas you have inside you from time to time."
The breadth of Gaines's music reflects his background. Growing up in Harrisburg, PA, Gaines teethed on soul stars like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, and was later inspired by David Bowie, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson and The Jam. His self-titled 1992 debut won him critical acclaim, which continued with 1994's Something Slightly Dazed and 1998's Galore.
But for all the attention his records have garnered him, Gaines treasures most the experience of live performing. "Although I got into music immediately because of how much music is a part of the world, being kind of shy I wanted to put myself in a position to communicate to as many people as I could once I had my thoughts together," he says. When Gaines is onstage, "I feel a warmth. There's no choreography and no stylist - they don't expect anything other than me being there. I just throw my voice up into the rafters of a place and trust that people will be with me. The fans that I have are the greatest. We really understand each other."