If youâ€™re Jeff Eaton, youâ€™re only nine years old when you get that guitar, and youâ€™re in your first band by the seventh grade.
Jeff grew up in Oregon â€” â€œwild, to put it mildlyâ€ â€” and stayed wild into adulthood. He partied hard, and music was always there. â€œWeâ€™d go to the bars, get drunk, go home and get our guitars, go back to the bar and play,â€ he says of his days in Mississippi.
So when it was time to clean up his life and ditch the drugs and the drinking, music had to go, too. Cleaning up meant leaving his old life: the people, the places he used to hang out, and the music.
â€œWhen youâ€™re getting away from something, when youâ€™re trying to get to a safe zone, you go as far as you can in the opposite direction,â€ he says.
It was eight years before Jeff could come back to music without worrying it might pull him back over to the wrong side of the road. When he did, he was tougher and wiser, and had a deep wish to reach people, relate to them and comfort them through music. Deciding that â€œmusic isnâ€™t just a bunch of fun and games,â€ he teamed up with Top-40 producer Ken Mary (who has worked with Trik Turner, Alice Cooper, The Phunk Junkeez, and LaRue) for his second release, the approachable, thoughtful â€œWish You Were Here.â€
The album is polished, warm and distinctly American: rootsy guitar, soaring harmonies and earnest vocals layered over driving rock. The albumâ€™s candid lyrics and passionate, yearning songs tap into Jeffâ€™s struggle of getting his life back under control: â€œTheyâ€™re about some of the helplessness and powerlessness I felt when I was trying to walk away from that life,â€ he says.
Theyâ€™re also intimately connected with his own faith, which gave him the strength he needed to clean up his life.
â€œI donâ€™t want to just preach to the choir,â€ he says. â€œI like to write songs you canâ€™t pigeonhole, not just praise and worship songs. Thatâ€™s where the subtlety comes in. People can take a lot from the songs â€” thereâ€™s enough there that when they think about it, they think â€˜Hey, he wasnâ€™t just talking about my relationship with my girlfriend,â€™ or whatever.â€
Ultimately, though, the songs are meant to make a connection.
â€œPeople get overwhelmed sometimes by an emotion, and they can only feel relieved if they can find music that completely captures it. I know how they feel; Iâ€™ve been there.â€
Check out the artist's website:
1. Take Your Breath Away
3. Your Love
4. Wish You Were Here
5. Calling On Angels
6. Outside Your Door
7. Back to You