It was said by one of my more eloquent fans that my music “combines the gritty Americana of Tom Petty, the harmonic savvy of Elvis Costello, and the undiluted melodicism of Paul Westerberg.” I’ll take that.
I’m Jeff Litman—a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist in New York City. My second album, Outside comes out on February 7th, 2012.
Outside is a record about searching for one's place in the world—professionally, romantically, artistically. Where my first record, Postscript is mired in the grief of a recently ended relationship, Outside is its slightly jaded, somewhat wiser, but still uncertain aftermath—grappling with the question of what happens next and taking on the struggles that accompany life as an independent artist at this moment in time. It was recorded throughout 2011 in Minneapolis and New York. I co-produced the album with my old friend, Andy Thompson (previously worked with Dan Wilson, Andy Sturmer, Jeremy Messersmith). I also had the pleasure of recording with two early heroes of mine: drummer, Michael Bland (Prince, Paul Westerberg, Soul Asylum) and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck, Air), who sings and plays keyboards on the title track. The record is filled out with the performances of a bunch of talented NYC-based artists and friends including Bryan Dunn, Maddy Wyatt, Shanna Zell, and Emily Zuzik.
I was born in Minneapolis at the tail end of the 70s, playing piano by age six and guitar by the time I was ten. Listening to grunge and metal throughout the 90’s, I eventually became hooked on the melody-driven classic rock of the Beatles and Beach Boys; the contemporary power-pop of artists like Jellyfish and Jon Brion; the grittier melodic rock of Minneapolis bands like The Replacements, Soul Asylum, and the Jayhawks; and of course, the uncategorizable, Prince. I also got into jazz, which led me to a jazz studies degree from Indiana University in 2002. After college, a developing love of classical music led me to New York City, where I enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, earning my masters degree in classical guitar in 2006. It’s perhaps needless to add—my influences are diverse.
Towards the end of grad school, the wheels came off of my personal life when a relationship came to an abrupt end. Avoiding major life decisions, I escaped back into academia, enrolling in a doctoral program in classical guitar at the City University of New York. As I emerged from the fog of heartbreak, however, I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings about the break-up in the language that felt most natural for me—melodic pop and rock music. This fueled my decision to quit school and get back to the basics of songwriting and playing rock n’ roll. The result of that soul-searching is my first record, Postscript. Since its release in 2009, I’ve continued to write, play live, and absorb the music of my peers at NYC venues like Rockwood Music Hall, The Living Room, and Arlene’s Grocery-—all of which influencing the sound and feel of the songs on Outside.
"ridiculously addictive" -Ellen Carpenter, Nylon Magazine.
"rich and ambitious" -Meara Anderson, Nylon Guys Magazine
"the best slice of jangly American rock since Matthew Sweet's heyday." -Rob Nichols, ROCKforward
"[Litman] exhibits that rare ability to come up melodies and riffs that only take a single play to unfold and become familiar friends" -Mick Dillingham, Art Into Dust
"The first great album of 2012...a bridge between the sounds of the past and present, thoughtful lyrics and catchy tunes, ballads and rockers, reverence and fresh blood. In an era of party tunes and singing competitions, we deserve a talent like Jeff Litman." -Lee Konfrst, Too Poppy
"Just about every song here is impressive" -Aaron Kupferberg, Powerpopaholic
"crafted tunes, organic instrumentation, thoughtful arrangements…Litman has fashioned an album that has enough flair and verve in it to sway the shallow, casual music fan." -Kevin Matthews, Power of Pop
"a record that should appeal to the masses…Jeff Litman solidifies his reputation as a songwriter focused on melody and thoughtful lyrics." -Bill Sullivan, Now This Rocks
"a distinct pleasure" -Bill Kopp, Musoscribe
"Litman forsook his academic training in classical and jazz for this field, as if he majored in McCartney instead. And with strummy should-be-hits like the sneakily-snarky "Everything You're Not," he'd have earned an "A." -Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover
"On Postscript, Jeff delivers all the things you could fervently wish for in a top flight pop album. Beautifully addictive melodies that charm at the start of each track and are lodged the heart's memory by the end, so by the second play they are already familiar friends." -Mick Dillingham, Art into Dust