Lock My Feelings In A Jar
by Jeff Alan Ross (a.k.a. Elliot Joffrey)
review by Tom Brennan
last update: March 7, 2009

Lock My Feelings In A Jar outer CD cover
Complete track listing:
01. Love Is Raining Down (Ross/Forde)
02. A Sailor's Shanty (Ross)
03. Grace Under Pressure (Ross)
04. Harmony's Song (Ross)
05. It Was Always You (Ross/Park)
06. Walk Into The Fire (Ross)
07. Love That's Lost Inside Of Me (Ross)
08. The Gift (Ross)
09. Carrier Of The Dream (Ross)
10. Angels In Disguise (Ross)
11. Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Today (Ross)
12. Name Of The Game (Peter Ham)
13. Love Is Raining Down ["stripped down" version] (Ross/Forde)

Please note that although the song lyrics are not included with the CD, they can all be found on Jeff's website at:

Jeff Alan Ross returns as a solo artist after two decades with his first album since 1989's, "View From A Leaf", which was released under his alias Elliot Joffrey (as he was known in the '80s), and let me say, it was well worth the wait. The title of his new CD is called, "Lock My Feelings In A Jar", and it was released on December 15, 2008. It is not only a line from the Badfinger song, "Name Of The Game", which is covered at the end of the CD, but it conveys the overall theme of this album pretty accurately. Each song on the CD expresses a different feeling or mood, whether it be joy, sadness, love, nostalgia, loneliness, respect, generosity, or depression. This CD is chock full of well-written, well-crafted, and well-performed songs. Here is a track-by-track rundown...

The album project began with the recording of the Pete Ham composition, Name Of The Game with all the other songs recorded later at various times. Jeff had previously sung Baby Blue, Blind Owl, Without You, Day After Day, and No Matter What with Badfinger in 1986-1987. While he sticks fairly close to the "Straight Up" Badfinger arrangement, Ross still manages to add enough of his own personal touches to make this cover version unique and special. The choruses feature multi-tracked vocals to sound like Ham & Evans. In addition, Jeff also nails the backing vocals perfectly. The ending is where the arrangement varies the most, with Cary Park adding electric guitars. This will probably end up becoming one of the best Badfinger cover versions ever recorded.

The lead-off track of the CD is at first listen, the most obvious "hit" song on the album. Love Is Raining Down is an uplifting spirtual acoustic number inspired by some moisture dripping out of trees on Jeff while he was having a barbeque in his backyard. The track features some incredible picking by John Jorgenson. An alternate mix of the song with all the instruments stripped away except acoustic guitars and vocals is included at the end of the CD as a bonus track, included at the request of Jeff's wife, Diane.

The second track is A Sailor's Shanty, and it features Jeff on 12-string acoustic guitar. The song is a fictional story about a young English sailor's adventures at sea, based on internet research that Jeff did. The bridge section features some orchestral sounding keyboards which help the listener visualize being on the ship. Overall, a very enjoyable experience, like a work of art in sound.

The third track is a Badfinger-inspired Power Pop number, called Grace Under Pressure which was actually written around 1987, the time Jeff was touring with Badfinger using the alias of Elliot Joffrey. It features Brian Pothier on Pete Ham-like slide guitar, and Bill Cinque playing Ron Griffiths-like bass guitar. This is another song that could easily be a hit single.

The next track, Harmony's Song is a coming-of-age song written for Ross's younger daughter, Harmony (his older daughter is named Melodey with a slightly different spelling, in case you were wondering). This is a very emotional tear jerker of a song, and one of my personal favorites. Jeff came up with a brilliant string arrangement for this ballad, which are real string samples played on the keyboard. Adult Pop Music radio stations should be playing this one. I think it would catch on quickly with enough airplay.

Track 5, It Was Always You was co-written with Cary Park, who also plays the George Harrison sounding slide guitar. It's another one of those catchy, well-crafted Pop tunes. This song was intended for the film, "Maid Of Honor", but wasn't accepted. Another potential hit.

Next, Walk Into The Fire provides a change of pace and mood from the rest of the CD. This piano-based number really shows how versatile a songwriter & singer Jeff Alan Ross really is. It is in the same vein as Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight. Walking into the fire here symbolizes the taking of risks in life.

The next song is a 7-1/2 minute Pop masterpiece, called Love That's Lost Inside Of Me. It's about a poet who falls in love with a woman who is in a higher social class than himself, and he realizes that the relationship cannot possibly last, so he tries to make the most of what little time he has together with her. Jeff's wife, Diane, adds a spooky vocal part ("Time's running out, time's running out"), that adds to the eerie mood of the song. To add to this are various keyboard parts played by Jeff which add to the dreamy atmosphere, and Beach Boys-like harmonies that would have fit nicely on the "Smile" album. In addition, it sounds like a bit of A Day In The Life Lennon influence in here also.

The Gift is a song written as a Christmas gift for his wife, Diane. It features Jeff on piano and various keyboards, including horns. The Gift in this instance is the gift of love. This song would sound incredible if performed with a full orchestra. It is sure to become a perennial favorite for years to come.

Carrier Of The Dream is a song written as a tribute to Native Americans. It features a very catchy acoustic guitar riff which hooks the listener in immediately, and wonderful percussion work by John Mahon. Nice bass playing in here played by Bob Birch as well, which keeps driving the rhythm along. Another highlight of the CD.

Angels In Disguise is a beautiful piano ballad that pays respect to all people that have passed on that have touched our lives in one way or another. This song has a catchy melody, as well as being something most people can related to. It features a Jeff Alan Ross keyboard horn solo. This is another of my favorites on the CD. Yet another potential hit.

The last original song on the CD, Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Today, is about the death of Jeff's father. The lyrics are sort of poetic and the music was influenced by The Byrds with its Roger McGuinn-ish guitar sound.

Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Today and Walk Into The Fire are my least favorite songs on the album, but that's saying a lot. There are NO duds on this CD that you will need to skip over. To the contrary, with each further listen, your appreciation of the songs will grow, and your own personal list of favorites will probably change every week. To have 10 out of 12 GREAT songs on one album is an amazing accomplishment for any singer/musician/songwriter and Jeff Alan Ross is to be congratulated on a job well done. If you don't check this CD out, you will be missing out on some great music that will surely stand the test of time, years and decades into the future. This is one CD you will likely find yourself giving many repeat listenings to.

Tom Brennan (March, 2009)

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