Jacques Gaines is far more than just a singer/songwriter and musician. The Tacoma, Washington based offspring of an African American father and French Canadian mother spent the bulk of his childhood a resident of Quebec City and enjoys great popularity in Canada through present day. A high school friend opened the first door into the music world. He co-founded the band Q-City that soon evolved into Soul Attorneys and took on a fresh bevy of new members. Their success resulted in a Canadian gold record and an extended run opening for pop icon Celine Dion. The initial flush of finding his way in the music world gave eventual way to disillusionment and, by 2007, Gaines stepped away from that world and, instead, focused on writing support music for television, film, and live entertainment. He honed his skills as a visual artist in the mediums of video and photography. It is only in 2016 that Gaines embraced the songwriting spark still burning within and opted to try his hand writing and recording a new album.
His single “Something Wrong with Me” from his latest release Volume Won testifies to his new found maturity as an artist and human being. Gaines has a warm, inviting voice perfect for the low key musical accompaniment he fashions for the track. It isn’t outright ethereal, but definitely has a light touch with clear commercial potential. His vocal sensitivity is ideal for the track – the predominant note he strikes with his singing is melancholic, but it is never mired in despair. It is emotional affecting nonetheless. Guest singer David Lamb delivers a fierce rap in the song’s second half that might take some listeners by surprise, but it works quite well within the song’s larger context.
The lyrics are circular and reflect the seesawing of blame in the aftermath of a failed romantic relationship and Gaines’ adroit writing doesn’t have any fat weighing down its message. The musical accompaniment is artful and restrained. It opens with Gaines’ voice and acoustic guitar before expanding with additional support from guitars, bass, piano, and keyboards. The single’s accompanying video isn’t wholly satisfying for me; it has a high degree of polish, but I am not sure how it connects with the track and seems more of an excuse to explore admittedly evocative imagery rather than enhancing the song’s meaning in any significant way.
Despite that one slight misstep, Jacques Gaines’ “Something Wrong with Me” is an impressive single release and bodes well for the entirety of Volume Won. Gaines may have his hand in many mediums and fields, but his talents as a musician, singer, and songwriter are beyond question. This is a mature work of musical art that deserves a wide hearing and will likely prove successful for this performer.
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