For the better part of a decade, JEFFREY HALFORD has maintained a reputation for issuing music that speaks to the plight of the working man and the high and lows that come with both love and life. In these times, doing so successfully is a tall order, given the "share and share-a-like" mentality of that pervades anything having to do with music. But at least we can count on JEFFREY and his HEALERS standing out by a mile with an electrifying live set which they have managed to take throughout the United States and Europe. A year ago, everything had felt like it had reached a zenith with the songwriter and band issuing their finest album to date, RAINMAKER. The album boasted a full, rich, vintage sound with HALFORD demonstrating songwriting chops the size of JOHN HIATT. Now, the band is back (well, three of them anyway) with a gritty surprise of an album called LO-FI DREAMS, where HALFORD and the band move from the refinement of their previous album to the raw, reckless rock n roll sound that made the genre dangerous sounding in the first place."I dig it!" said HALFORD, when we spoke over the phone regarding his latest catalog of music. "I know it's a cliche, but you wait for the magic to come into the room and it did. The last album RAINMAKER was pieced together in pain. I couldn't get the mixes right and the whole project killed me. Not to say that I hated that album. I loved the album, but the way the whole thing came together was difficult. After that, I got a trio together and went to Europe to do some shows. When we came back we got into the studio and recorded the new one live. There was a real focus to what we did in the studio and you can hear it on the album."
The shift in sound isn't exactly a million miles away from what HALFORD and the band had always been known for, but the immediacy of an album like LO-FI DREAMS makes this latest entry something to remember. HALFORD credits a stop in Germany on the band's recent tour through Europe for inspiring the band's stripped down approach. "When we were touring Europe we played this place in Germany and this young kid named LEON came up to us. He looked like JOHN LENNON on the cover the of the ROCK N ROLL record. There were a lot of people at this show, but the sound system was horrible. While we were doing our sound check, my vocals sounded like I was singing into a distorted microphone. Anyway this kid LEON comes up to me and says in this really thick German accent 'I don't usually like your kind of music but I love your lo-fi sound!' I looked at him and I thought 'I've gotta go with this!' So this kid LEON inspired the title and the distortion is ever-present on this album. This record has got some dirty ass sounds. The music has truly been stripped down. I don't know if you noticed this at all but there are no cymbals or hi-hats on the drums for this album. All that we used in the way of drums was a snare and a kick. All of the other instruments are what propels this album form the guitars, the bass, the piano and the harmonica.This was the sound I was going for. This sound appeals to me. I grew up with stuff like LED ZEPPELIN, but in my twenties, I heard artists like CHUCK BERRY and HOWLIN' WOLFE for the first time and really fell for that primal, reckless, abandon of theirs. When I first heard that stuff it blew my mind. I was like 'Holy shit!'"
That was also sentiment shared when the LO-FI DREAMS reached number seven on the EURO AMERICAN CHARTS upon the albums release. "CHRIS STAPLETON is two spaces above me and WILLIE NELSON is a couple below me. And I'm here going 'Wow'! I've always loved blues and country and country music is just heavy blues that is played in a different way. I've always been more of a blues guy, but the stories in country music are so good. I don't care what kind of music it is as long as you make it your own and play it great. As a songwriter, I always try to look for interesting subject matter and for me, the hardest thing for me to do is write good love songs. I'm always waiting for something to come through to me, but with this album I've hit a couple of good love songs. With this album, I tried to one up my own writing."
And the writing this time has proven this time has proven itself to be leaner and meaner with such tracks as the SUN session-styled Memphis song 10,000 MILES, the down home dirty blues of LOOKING FOR A HOME and the groove-laiden track ELVIS SHOT THE TELEVISON which has it's roots in ELVIS PRESLEY fandom. "The song came about with the bass player BILL MACBETH playing this really bouncey groove and me and the drummer coming in on it. The three of us coming together on that song was like a stew. The idea for this song came to me at this ELVIS-themed pool party in Laguna Beach that happens every year. It's put on by this woman who is just this huge ELVIS fanatic. Every year she puts me up in a hotel room and I play ELVIS songs at this pool party. They even give out those peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches, which was ELVIS' favorite. All lot of the the guys that play there claim to have played with ELVIS and this one guys was telling me how ELVIS shot his TV. I started scribbling these lyrics down on a napkin. This song wrote itself."
The band propelling HALFORD's sound is a three piece, and HALFORD finds the new set up a reasonable one."For the last album RAINMAKER, I had a hug six piece band and when that band became a trio some thing interesting happened. The songs started to come out. BILL MACBETH is the bass player and he's played with guys like ALVIN YOUNG and CARLOS GUITARLOS. He's got a great feel for the bass. ADAM is a killer blues pianist and SONNY plays the drums. Every now and then we've got a harmonica player named JIMMY DURAN. All of those guys together making music - that's a stew that tastes really good to me!"
As far as the immediate future for HALFORD and the band is concerned, LO-FI DREAMS figures heavily into their future plans, but new music is on the way. "Right now, I'm going to be busy pushing the LO-FI DREAMS record. It has just come out on vinyl and I've just gotten some funding from the NO BOUNDS music label. As far as future music, I want to move in more of a doo-wop or soul direction. A lot of the music that I've been writing lately is more along the lines of SOLOMON BURKE."
While new music is on the way, LO-FI DREAMS is a listen that HALFORD feels will transport an listener."It's not up to me. Whatever we've laid down lyrically and musically is what they're going to get. Good music is like medicine. You turn it on and it transports you to another place. And that will happen to people when they listen to this album. Turn it up and get ready!"
BRiAN LUSH (FOUNDER, EDiTOR-iN-CHiEF)
CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: firstname.lastname@example.org