Kevin Caffrey | Downshifter

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Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Rock: Acoustic Moods: Solo Male Artist
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by Kevin Caffrey

Caffrey has 3 goals when it comes to his music: make the listener think, make the listener feel & make it catchy! With Downshifter, he thinks he's come the closest to accomplishing all three.
Genre: Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Grievances
7:55 $0.99
2. 180
5:09 $0.99
3. Untitled
1:34 $0.29
4. Big Machine
5:14 FREE
5. High School Reunion
5:13 $0.99
6. Will Today Be the Day?
6:50 $0.99
7. Marking Time
3:46 $0.99
8. When You're Young
7:37 $0.99
9. Grievances (Reprise)
1:50 $0.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Do you wanna start over? Do you wanna get away?”

These were the questions Kevin Caffrey began asking himself figuratively as well as geographically several years ago. After they welcomed their son Aidan into the world in 2008, Kevin and his wife shortly thereafter relocated from Long Island to historic Fredericksburg, Virginia in search of a more affordable way of living. During this transition, Caffrey shifted his focus and priorities in order to simplify his lifestyle. “My wife & I became parents and we envisioned a life where one of us was able to stay home to raise our child full-time, and the other was not locked into a job that took up 50-60 hours of your week in order to just pay your bills. To do so is a huge challenge on Long Island and in the New York City area. So we moved to Fredericksburg where we could afford to simplify things a bit. It didn’t mean giving up our TVs or other luxury items and never going out to eat a nice restaurant—it just meant being more conscious of spending habits and practicing a greater degree of social, financial and environmental sustainability. This shift in lifestyle became so rewarding that it naturally became the basis of Downshifter.”

After kicking off with the buoyant, urgent “Grievances” (“I said to myself, “If you’re going to make a song that lists a bunch of complaints, at least make it bouncy and happy!”), Downshifter then offers up its thesis statement in "180" which more or less serves as the album's title track containing the argument of simple living vs. materialism ("We all want the keys to the kingdom/before we get a look at the lay of the land/then we find ourselves just holding on to things we don't quite understand."). The moody instrumental piece “Untitled” leads into the social conscious re-awakening of “Big Machine”. Caffrey explains: “I feel like in my 20s and early 30s I kind of lost sight of a lot of the things I seemed to be more passionate about when I was a teenager and in high school. You get married and have kids and start to take on new responsibilities that can then tend to put some of those ideas on the back burner. I have the benefit of working in higher education and it is really inspiring because you’re around so many young people that are truly passionate about great things and want to make this world better. This song is about that.” A cynical look back at high school takes center stage on “High School Reunion," but it's not long before the listener realizes that this cynicism has emotionally crippled the protagonist of the song (“Have I not changed? Should I let it be? Or have I just let change get the best of me?”). “Will Today Be The Day?” was written in 2005 during an early morning subway in NYC where Kevin worked at the time. It was the day after a terrorist attack on the London Transit Underground system. “I rode on that subway car that morning with other commuters, students, tourists – and how could these feelings not be on all of our minds? And in today’s world, it’s more or less *always* on our minds. I wrote it mostly just in my head and didn’t really feel the need to record it because it was therapeutic enough to just compose my feelings on it all. And that illustrates a great example of how just even exploring and putting your feelings together in some way, shape or form will help you enormously when something like that happens. But I knew one day I’d want to finish it properly and record it and now felt like the time to do it.” It makes sense that on an album that highlights a lifestyle change based on family ultimately ends with songs about Caffrey’s wife and his son. “Marking Time” attempts to recall 70s era Neil Young and capture a peaceful mindfullness of finding the person in your life that you want to spend all of your days with. “When You’re Young” finds Caffrey looking back at pivotal moments in his own youth while trying to find the right way to pass on advice to his own son--even though he knows it’s unlikely (and only appropriate) that he probably won’t take it (“When you’re young/you’re just around the corner from better days/when you’re young/you ain’t listening to a single word that I say…and that’s beautiful”). Here’s a little trivia for you--we’re assuming it’s never been done before-- but “When You’re Young” features three generations of Caffreys on the track; Kevin’s father and son provide background vocals during the bridge.

Musically, Downshifter is more upbeat than nearly any of Caffrey’s prior work. “I read an interview with John Ondrazik [the man behind Five For Fighting] before I began writing songs for Downshifter who made a great point with regard to singer/songwriters – slow, introspective songs are a dime a dozen. There’s a much greater challenge in writing uptempo/happy songs. So I kept that in mind a lot during the writing process, especially since I wouldn't say there was much *joy* on my previous album Medium Talent. Songs like “Grievances,” “180” and “When You’re Young” came from that idea.” In addition to adding shakers, tambourines, and wood blocks for a fuller percussive sound on some songs, Caffrey picked up the mandolin for some added flavor and even strapped on some of Tony Levin’s patented funk fingers for some bass parts. Laughs Caffrey, “Yeah, I probably won’t be doing that again. There’s a really good reason why only Tony Levin uses them.” Keyboards play a much less prominent role on this album than on Medium Talent. “That album ended with a 15 minute song without any guitar on it. There was no way I was going to not come out of the gate with a ton of guitars on this album. That’s what I was going for at the end of “When You’re Young” – there’s about four or five different guitar parts going on at the same time during the break before the end – I just wanted to end with an assault of guitars. I also didn’t go crazy with trying to obtain perfection on that song – I just wanted to bust out a sloppy, driving rock song about youth. I know there are muffed notes and fret noises all over it. I remember listening back to it after recording the main guitar part and hearing how less-than-perfect it sounded and just loving it. A song about youth – no, you don’t want to labor too much over little mistakes. That’s what the whole idea of the song is about!”

And that’s beautiful.

[Caffrey is currently out promoting the CD with performances throughout Virginia and the DC area. Check out his other albums that are available on by going to]



to write a review

Jim Lutz

Even Better Than The Last!
Kevin has done a great job with this album. I love the production. The sound is so clear and crisp that you think he is performing in your living room. My favorite track would have to be 'Grievances' followed by 'When You're Young'. Comparing the album to Kevin's previous releases, there is more of an oveall upbeat feel to it. All through out the album, you can find interesting melodies and rhythms that keeps the listener tuned in. Great job!

New York

Happy to have in my collection
In this world today of throw-away pop music with mindless lyrics, this new album by Kevin is a refreshing and reassuring discovery. Catchy melodies and words that makes you think, too. I think that the song "Big Machine" on this album is a true masterpiece. "Grievances" is another of my favorites. Excellent album, Kevin! Looking forward to more music of yours in the future!