Live In Europe

Jeffrey Gaines

JGM Recordings, 2012

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


This collection was assembled during Jeffrey Gaines' 25-city tour of Europe in the fall of 2010 with Joe Jackson, and it finds Gaines delivering the classics of his deep catalog and even covering a David Bowie tune (“Five Years”).

Let me first say that as a general rule, I don't find live discs that worthwhile unless you're a big fan or were at the show the recording is from. I mean, really, who wants to hear unfamiliar songs that are often of poor sound quality? my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With that said, let me amend my previous statement to include that live discs can be useful if you're not familiar with an artist's body of work and want to hear selections from their entire discography. That's where Live In Europe becomes important. Sure, Gaines has had some success in the majors, and as a result ended up all over late night talk shows and MTV, but 95% of you reading this have never heard of him, myself included. Maybe that's the idea behind this release (which comes after eight years of no new releases): to find new ears via an evening with Gaines' selections. If it is, it's a great tactic, because it immediately made me want to hear his studio albums.

Gaines doesn't waste anytime getting right into his heartfelt and introspective storytelling, starting off with “Fear.” His gravely yet powerful voice possesses a tremendous amount of emotion. He keeps this raw brand of soulful, reflective songwriting in check all the way through, his guitar playing moving from delicate picking to more forceful strumming. “Beyond The Beginning” is an absolutely beautiful ballad that Elvis Costello forgot to write, and tracks like “Headmasters Of Mine” and “I'll Have You” move by with gentle moments of grace that erupt into cathartic power. The disc ends on “Over And Over,” one of the faster tracks here where Gaines shows he's equally skilled at any tempo.

Amazingly, Gaines' biggest hit yet, a reworking of Peter Gabriel's “In Your Eyes,” is absent here. While most would add it to guarantee a certain amount of sales (Gaines' version charted for 22 weeks), he is quite confident enough to win over the listener's attention sans this staple. Consider this listener won over.

Rating: B

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© 2012 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of JGM Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.