Singer-songwriter Jeffrey Gaines is a true believer in embracing life’s opportunities at every turn, and on Toward the Sun, his fifth release in a decade-long career, the Pennsylvania native takes a chance by opening his heart to reveal the yearnings of the soul. Toward the Sun mixes bluesy electric guitar, compelling keys (piano, moog, Hammond B3), soul-enriching balladry and soft pop/rock refrains to effectively convey Gaines’s intense emotions. His vocals are delivered in deep and penetrating tones, strikingly reminiscent of Seal, John Hiatt, and oddly enough, Bruce Springsteen. Each one of the album’s 11 tracks is graced by a carefully considered sonic warmth, crafted with beautiful imagery and lyrics of sweeping resonance: “Sweet summertime/So warm and green/Ain’t felt like this since seventeen.” “Over and Over,” “Come Out Tonight” and “Beyond the Beginning” are seductively sweet and dreamy, allowing for Gaines to consider a timeless musical proposition: in a world grown cold, perhaps love truly is the answer. If it isn’t, Toward the Sun makes a pretty damn strong case for it.
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