Thrusting forward with one of the more memorable grooves of the Origins tracklist, “Back on My Feet Again” gets an extra shot of adrenaline when Jeff Coffey takes on the classic composition in his latest album. Origins – Singers and Songs That Made Me has more than its share of awesome beats, but as incredible as the percussive element is in songs like “Baby It’s Tonight” and the wonderful “Maybe I’m Amazed,” it’s not the true grand prize in this record. That is unquestionably Coffey’s voice, which gets the workout of a lifetime around every twist and turn the material throws his way, and while he’s done some spot-on work with the mic beforehand, I think this could be a new standard-setting moment for his career moving ahead.
There’s definitely a strong AOR theme to the music in Origins, but the songs that Coffey chose to put into this tracklist are arranged as to showcase the different styles of attack he can employ depending on everything from the tonal expressiveness of the piano parts to the actual tempo of the drums. He has a litany of skills in his war chest, and rather than trying to stuff them into specific songs, like the anthemic “Maggie May” or balladic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” he spreads them out throughout the content as to give us small samplings of his talent as we move from one track to the next. This allows for everything to gel, and moreover, Coffey’s signature attributes to remain in the spotlight.
I would have liked a little more of a focus on the strings in “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” but in the case of tracks like this one, “New York Minute” and the Payton Taylor-featured “It’s Only Love,” I can understand why the instrumentation was pushed towards the backburner in the master mix. Taylor’s voice definitely imparts a lot of color in “It’s Only Love” that might not have been as present amidst a different framework, while Michael Omartian’s contribution to “Who Wants to Live Forever” wouldn’t have had as psychedelic an overtone as it affords the song in this instance. There’s a method to the madness in Origins, but I should have expected as much from a player of Coffey’s pedigree.
While it’s not the first set of hits he’s added to his growing discography in the last twenty years, Jeff Coffey’s Origins – Singers and Songs That Made Me is a must-listen for anyone who has been following his professional odyssey. There’s a lot we can learn about his artistry and where he wants to go from here in this fifteen-song tracklist, and above all else, I get the feeling this isn’t going to be his last epic LP as a solo artist. He’s probably more known for his collaborative efforts than he is his own endeavors, but with an increasing interest in his work through a release as potently affective as this one is, I’d love to see him capitalize on the momentum.