Jacques Gaines’ return to writing and recording albums after a multi-year layoff is coming off quite well if his new single “Something Wrong with Me” is a reliable guide. The track is included on his latest full length release entitled Volume Won and illustrates his exponential growth as both a songwriter and human being since his successful tenure as a member of the band Soul Attorneys. It is a relatively spartan track musically, built around unobtrusive guitars, a low key rhythm section performance, and an assortment of keyboard color. There are some twists in this song, however, that will capture listener’s attention. It’s impressive how, despite considerable time away from the art of writing and recording albums, Gaines hasn’t lost a step.
The video released with the song is a stylish visual companion piece for the song and reveals Gaines’ gifts in other areas. It, for the most part, eschews the restless jump cuts and movement so often a staple of promotional clips dovetails itself neatly around the song. The filming does not linger on Gaines. Instead, two females are much of the video’s focus and they do an excellent job miming to the song and communicating with movement and positioning rather than dialogue. The color scheme for the video is satisfying and never garish.
“Something Wrong with Me” reads over familiar ground subject wise, but Gaines has an unique talent for phrasing the song’s well worn themes without ever testing listener’s patience and applies a new veneer to an exploration of what it is like to unravel blame in the wake of a broken relationship.
He writes in a clear, no frills way that has its own conversational eloquence. The vulnerability laden vocal he provides the track is another key component making the track work. I’m not a big fan of the brief rap portion of the song, provided by guest vocalist David Lamb, because it feels a little too arbitrary and doesn’t really fit what has come before or after, but Lamb does a fine job nonetheless. A brief instrumental break would have perhaps played more appropriate.
Jacques Gaines’ new single is an excellent introduction to the man’s art for newcomers and a satisfying reminder of his ability for longtime fans. His time away from the commercial music world has been well spent and he comes to listeners here with his batteries fully recharged and inspired. It ranks for me as one of the better singles I’ve heard this year and hope to hear more from him in the months and years to come.