Acoustic soul rocker Jeffrey Gaines broke through to the mainstream in 2001 with his third release, Always Be. It took Gaines' soulful rendition of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" -- live and recorded versions are on this album -- for audiences to fully take notice of this singer/songwriter. Gaines offers up another remake here -- a stark version of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The singer's take on this classic ballad is mesmerizing. Gaines' talent, unmistakably, lies in his tenor voice, which fluidly sweeps through the scales, resulting in sultry lows and searing highs, all delivered with a richness that oozes like hot fudge. Always Be has several shining moments. "I'll Have You" is a wistful torch song that is entirely seductive, while "Take Me Back" recalls the Fabulous Thunderbirds -- but without the speedy tempo -- and drives with soul and toe-tapping verve. "Hero in Me," an acoustic ballad, is purely plaintive and finds its protagonists regretful and longing to be free from the emotional prisons that they've built. This song is deeply touching. Jeffrey Gaines can be likened to Duncan Sheik, Seal, Bryan Ferry, and other sensitive singer/songwriters with sexy voices. To be sure, Gaines' sound is firmly planted in relaxed, straightforward light rock, with a soulful edge. While there is nothing groundbreaking on Always Be, the album is a pleasure to listen to and Gaines' voice an instrument to behold.
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AllMusic Review by Liana Jonas