“Something Wrong with Me” is a single from Jacques Gaines’ full length album Volume Won and is an excellent example of singer/songwriter driven fare in the 21st century. The album is the end product of sixteen months worth of hard work and represents Gaines’ return to the popular music arena following ten plus years working in different areas. Raised in Canada and now residing in the Tacoma, Washington area, Gaines experienced a great deal of early success with the band Soul Attorneys including chart success and extensive touring. The personal nature of his songwriting then remains unchanged now – but “Something Wrong with Me” plumbs deeper into emotional waters than anything he offered in his younger incarnation.
The lyrics are well crafted and have a hypnotic quality. Recrimination’s ugly spirit after the end of a romantic relationship fuels the words for this song and it has a sort of circular firing squad logic anyone who has experienced this particular feature of adulthood. Gaines, fortunately for listeners, avoids playing to the bitter emotions that can result and, instead, affects a pained tone throughout the entirety of his performance. The vocal contribution that hits home with more inflamed emotions is David Lamb’s brief rap during the track’s second half; it is a bit unexpected and may displease some listeners, but it does offer a different emotional slant on the lyrics.
Gaines keeps the musical arrangement uncluttered and, despite additions like the rap section, relatively demure. The stylishness is hard to ignore and it is a byproduct of that tastefulness. The music turns on an array of keyboard sounds, compositional minded guitar, and a low key rhythm section performance. Part of the song’s obvious maturity comes from the fact that Gaines doesn’t need to rely on theatrics or figurative chest-beating to draw listener’s attention. Instead, he writes and performs in a restrained way exuding cool confidence throughout the whole song. The song’s video is a worthy companion piece for the song and shows off Gaines’ penchant for memorable visuals, but it never overreaches. Instead of dressing up the video release with gaudy imagery that means nothing to the presentation.
His time spent away from the popular music world has been fruitful and deepened his talents. Jacques Gaines never sounds like a writer or performer pandering for our attention. Instead, he sounds like he is writing and recording music for himself first and foremost and any connections we establish are likely gravy for him rather than the sole motivation behind his work, This is clear musical art, not without its flaws, but intensely human nonetheless and well worth your attention.