At Work: Matt Jaffe
At 28, Matt Jaffe has already accomplished a lot. Discovered by Jerry Harrison at an open-mic night in 2015, the singer-songwriter rolled out his full-length debut, Blast Off at the tender age of 16, thanks to some guidance from the Talking Heads multi-instrumentalist. Shortly after, he participated in writing sessions with Chuck Prophet and Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s and, since then, he has traversed the nation, opening for Blues Traveler, Jackie Greene, Mavis Staples and others.
In addition to tracking half a dozen albums alongside a mix of Bay Area luminaries, Jaffe’s most recent accolade is guesting beside Bob Weir during Sweetwater Music Hall’s 50th-anniversary celebration, where he took on the 1965 Dylan classic, “Like a Rolling Stone.” “He’s been exceptionally generous with his influence, time and insight,” Jaffe says, when asked about his time with Weir. “It would have been incredibly kind for him just to have had me up there in any capacity. So to go the extra mile to let me lead— it’s just beyond.”
Jaffe’s sit-in arrived three weeks prior to the release of his latest LP, White Roses in the Snow, a dance-ready set of eight songs that exemplify the artist’s ability to deliver thoughtfully crafted lyrics set in a rock-androll framework. And, with little time to rest, he’s already working on his next project. “We just started mixing the new album,” he admits.
“Perhaps not surprisingly, during the pandemic, my focus shifted toward recording music rather than playing live. I still love performing and I seek it out, but recording has become a more direct channel to express what I want to say with music,” Jaffe says. “There’s a focus and precision that I can find in the studio that’s more challenging to locate in a live setting. I’ve become more deliberate and proactive in my approach.”
“The name of the new album is going to be Gone Enough to Miss,” he adds. “The theme that I keep coming back to, even unintentionally, is the passage of time. Hence, the title of the next record—it’s sort of an album about how much time lapses between the present day and significant life events. It is sort of about healing and the recognition that certain grief never ends. It might lessen, but there’s no closure necessarily.”
Needless to say, Jaffe’s eagerness to continue his practice has departed from the regulatory responsibilities of an artist in favor of full-fledged infatuation. “To paraphrase the novelist John Irving, who wrote one of my favorite books, Hotel New Hampshire, ‘You have to get obsessed and stay obsessed,’” he says. “That’s how I feel about working on these songs.”