Jeff Coffey is currently working as a touring bassist for former Eagles guitarist and co-writer of the iconic “Hotel California”, but he is increasingly distinguishing himself as a solo artist. Origins, however, eschews original material in favor of a tribute album to the songs that inspired him to pursue his musical ambitions as a younger man and the obvious affection he has for the tracks is impossible to ignore. The cross section of styles he explores over the course of the album’s fourteen tracks will appeal to many music fans though hardcore devotees will find some interpretations are weaker than others. Some listeners will find Coffey often relies more on his outright vocal prowess instead of the nuance you hear in many of the original vocalists, but there are exceptions to this as well.
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“Ask the Lonely” is a strong opener for the release. It’s difficult for any self-respecting rock fan to not like Journey songs from this time period and Coffey deserves props for not going for the obvious Journey cover, ala “Lights” or “Separate Ways”, among others. The production has polish you do not often hear from independent artists, but Coffey has obviously spared no effort in give this album a thoroughly modern sound. “Magic Power” is a bit of a surprise as Coffey mines the catalog of the now nearly forgotten Triumph for one of their most effective AOR rock tracks. Coffey is easily Rik Emment’s equal on this track and the musical arrangement honors the original while still planting his own flag with the performance.
“Back on My Feet Again” reminds longtime music fans why The Babys were such an important act in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s. Coffey makes this track one of the album’s undoubted highlights thanks to his ability to nail the spirit of the original without ever trying to produce a carbon copy of the first version. The guitar work romps with the same enthusiastic electricity you hear in the original with the additional bonus of current production values and the percussion has a sharp crack that gives the track palpable impetus. “This Is It”, a 1979 hit for Kenny Loggins, percolates with light-footed grace that Coffey compliments with a five star pop vocal. It is another example, as well, of the transformative qualities Coffey’s production gives these venerable tunes.
“It’s Only Love” turns the clock back to Bryan Adams’ heyday and allows Coffey another chance to flex his rock vocal chops for listeners. The fiery guitar beginning the song sets the stage for everything that follows and the lead lines cut through any resistance you may harbor to the track. To utilize a hoary cliché, it means business. “Waiting for a Girl Like You” takes Foreigner’s pop rock gem in a different direction with a much more patient arrangement, not that the original is impatient, and the largely acoustic nature of the performance will connect with many listeners. Jeff Coffey’s Origins is a powerful tribute to the artists who made Coffey into the first rate talent he is today and we can expect he’ll continue entertaining listeners for many years to come.