On my initial listen, the first tune hit me as something that Prince and Steely Dan might concoct should they have ever collaborated. Whereas in contrast the second song, where horns and brass (reminiscent of Earth Wind & Fire) surround a catchy pop track that in a different context would not sound out of place on a Rick Astley “Best Of” record, totally throwing me once again. Another run through, I found even more levels – traces of Talking Heads, Lenny Kravitz, The Eagles, and more besides hidden in the mix – what was going on here?
I turned to Toronto musician Jeff Eager’s website for help, the first line of which read: ‘versatility is the defining trait of Jeff Eager’s talent.’ Well, hey, it’s nice to be proven right once in a while, and suddenly everything starts falling into place. “In my music career I’ve played a lot of cover gigs. I’ve made a living off of playing covers in bars, clubs, weddings, and corporate events,” the artist explains. “I’ve managed to carve out a unique brand and reputation, playing the pop, rock, funk and soul that I truly love.”
You can clearly hear many of Jeff’s quoted influences – Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Elton John, Peter Gabriel, The Rolling Stones, Hall and Oates – in this pair of gems. Jeff is clearly a musician that has soaked it up and now is ready to dish it out in his own unique ‘hooks-a-plenty’ radio-friendly way. But let’s head back to what should have been the beginning, as we’re way ahead of ourselves.
“For Your Love” and “I Don’t Dance Anymore” are the infectious twin single releases from Jeff Eager, taken from what shall be his second album. Instantly digestible, both tracks hit a bright, breezy yet solid and satisfying groove and stay on it for the duration. “For Your Love,” the overtly more soulful piece, has an easy-going charm that belies the lyrical complexities of maintaining a healthy relationship, as Jeff explains: “It’s about struggling with your love, with your partner. Relationships are real and messy, and to be in one long-term requires conviction and intention. You choose to invest in each other and you choose it again and again.”
The slightly more upbeat guitar-laden funk of “I Don’t Dance Anymore,” with its stacked horns and iconic 80s synth is, according to Jeff, a very literal tune. “Quite simply, I used to dance more when I was younger, much more carefree. Now that’s a much rarer thing. I have a hard time simply dancing for joy, that’s unless I’m on stage with a mic and a guitar – anyone who has seen me perform knows I can’t stand still. I would think as we get older, we become more comfortable in our bodies and with ourselves, we should become more carefree. But it seems to be the opposite, for me at least.”
If both tracks hint of music from a golden gone-by-analogue-past, that’s not so much deliberate, as just plain natural. “I made it a goal to write songs that can sit next to those great artists’ work and feel that it is as good and that I can play it on stage with an equal amount of confidence and joy,” Jeff adds. “This music is not written as throwback or as a gimmick. It’s not to be enjoyed tongue-in-cheek or ironically. I’ve simply created some original art that I believe to be good. If it happens to have the feeling of a nostalgic golden-age of music, that’s just a by-product that can’t be helped.”
For me, whether there’s a whiff of nostalgia evident is irreverent, as pretty much all music tends to be derivative of the past to varying degrees. What’s important is whether it’s good or bad, and the answer, for me at least, belongs very much to the former. Jeff’s come up with twin beauties in these tracks, which makes the forthcoming album one to watch out for. If the rest of his new tunes live up to the quality of these releases, then Jeff may well have crafted a little timeless wonder himself.
Photo Credit: Dawn Bowman