Singer/Songwriter Jeff Coffey Releases LP
2020 has been anything but a conventional year in all regards, but even with this being the case, Jeff Coffey is digging into some of the best melodic handiwork he’s presented to listeners so far in the new album Origins – Singers and Songs That Made Me. As its title tells us, Origins is a record that brings us to celebrate classic pop/rock as it influenced, inspired and shaped the music of Jeff Coffey, and I really don’t think you need to be a hardcore fan of either subject to love the grooves featured in most every song here.
Whether he’s showing us his soft side in “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” or “It’s Only Love” with Payton Taylor, or getting a little heavy with his harmonies in “Ask the Lonely,” “Maggie May” and “Back on My Feet Again,” this is an artist who sounds more committed to the craft than ever, and that’s not something that I often hear in a cover album like his latest release. He’s dismissing the rigidity of his peers’ work entirely in Origins, and more importantly, finding a place for himself in the indie hierarchy that could garner him more mainstream success in the future.
Though all of the material here was written and originally recorded by someone other than Jeff Coffey, the arrangement of the instrumentation – in songs like “It’s Only Love,” “This Is “It” and “Magic Power,” for example – guarantees a level of freshness that leaves the understated narrative in each track untethered to their original forms. By this I mean he’s is able to put his own personality and feelings into what a song like “New York Minute” was originally designed to convey to us – while his striking in the chorus (1:19) is volatile, it reflects a deeper angst that I wouldn’t get out of the classic version at all. This record definitely boasts a sleek production style, but even so, there isn’t a stitch of tonality being sacrificed for mainstream sexiness; Coffey’s performances in tracks like “Who Wants to Live Forever” and “When We Dance” speak for themselves. His vocal melts into the instrumentation seamlessly, but not due to a lack of clarity (the opposite).
If Origins – Singers and Songs That Made Me was truly constructed to serve as a case study on the roots and aesthetical principles Jeff Coffey holds closest to his heart, I would expect a lot more magic to come out of his future recording sessions. It’s really hard to make a quality cover album in 2020, especially when you think about just how many big name artists are recording them at the moment, but if there’s a singular effort that could act as a good template off which a lot of players could work, Origins is it.
Coffey is a master of melodic wit, and that was never made quite as obvious to us as it is when he cuts into the fifteen songs that made this tracklist.