While in the midst of making his new record, Hope for the Best … But Expect Nothing, Yves Jean was at home getting ready for a date. Suddenly, he was hit with the first notes of what would become the album's closing song -- "My Mother" -- and began working the melody out on his keyboard. Before he knew it, it was the early hours of the morning, and he had four missed calls -- and some angry voicemails -- from his jilted date. "My reaction was just, ‘Wow, I just wrote a hot song!'" Jean says, laughing.
Such was the intense inspirational force that took hold of Jean, a 12-year music-business veteran, while making Hope for the Best …, his first release since 2008's For Love and Desperation. While that album was born from pain, inspired by the death of Jean's mother, his new album is considerably brighter.
Jean spent time working on the record in Los Angeles, where, he says, "I kind of got inspired by the sun, the beach, the pretty people." He met with various music-industry representatives, who expressed interest in what he had, and wanted to hear more. However, Jean was starting to run out of money.
"It's not your typical demo in the basement," he says of the record. After investing $20,000 himself, he was only half finished. Recording in L.A., he says, was like "going on a date with a woman who only wants to date wealthy guys. At first you're like, ‘I got this,' and then you check your bank account."
Jean started a Kickstarter campaign and, thanks to a national and international fan base cultivated through years of touring, he was able to raise $14,000 in under six months. "I almost gave up, but I hoped for the best," he says.
Musically, the record borrows from everywhere: from classical and club music to jazz, blues and world. "Live Up Your Life," a song that Jean, who is Haitian, wrote after the earthquake in Haiti, incorporates Caribbean festival music. The record carries most of its weight in the instrumentation -- the lyrics are sometimes overly literal -- but it's hard to deny the abundance of good vibes Jean has to offer.
Download the track "Last Forever" on FFW>>, City Paper's music blog at www.pghcitypaper.com as part of our MP3 Monday feature.
YVES JEAN CD RELEASE. 7 p.m. Thu., Dec. 1. Stage AE, 400 North Shore Drive, North Side. $10-12. All ages. Food drive for East End Cooperative Ministries. 412-229-5483