Crowded Hour

by Jeff Litman

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about

Jeff Litman is one of the self-sufficient creative factories operating in post-industrial Brooklyn by the Gowanus Canal. Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, he lives among filmmakers, designers, and other accomplished craftspeople who make art in the slanted light of post-Obama America.

After the crafty power-pop moves of 2015's critically beloved Primetime, Litman's latest release, Crowded Hour comes on like the first glimmers of an immersive club drug —a stylistic direction hinted at by Litman’s spacey, melancholic production of “You Only Live Twice,” his and Andi Rae Healy’s contribution to 2017’s all-star compilation, Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007 (Curry Cuts). On Crowded Hour, electro nocturnes of fleeting loves and compromised senses evoke a bluer-than-blue state under siege. Its soundscape is an artisanal blend of early-'80s Peter Gabriel and Prince, with an expansive palette of drum-loops scene-shifting from late-night fog to tapping anticipation, while distortion-wrought drones charge certain moments with the noisy transcendence of wizards from Nils Cline to Robert Fripp. The title is a phrase Litman heard attributed to New York's own Teddy Roosevelt, who so described a heroic (and fictional) charge up San Juan Hill that propelled him into the White House. "I'm not sure it has relevance to the album," Litman says of the phrase. "I just thought it sounded cool." But like some pre-dawn stretches of sleeplessness, his latest songs are indeed crowded. With the ghosts, memories, and illusions that visit adulthood in a time-warping age.

"One Foot Forward" opens with a shimmering invocation of someone who's gone but ever-present. A hushed pause before some action with mortal stakes, the song builds to vocal heroics and explosive drama primed for a coming-of-age film's crucial montage. “Only You" falls into this songwriter's sweet spot of love-song titles masking power-pop self-castigation. Its terse yet baroque composition is something you'd hear on a lost Raspberries single; a short suite for Mellotron and female vocal harmonies breezing straight into a fast-and-dirty guitar solo Elliot Easton might've dropped into 8 bars of an early Cars classic. Litman wrote all songs from 2014-15, during a rocky romantic transition, when he still shared the Earth with David Bowie, Tom Petty, and Prince. Each of these far-flung artists has long been a key strand in Litman's distinct sonic weave, but he uses each one's sound and harmonic language with a virtuoso's fluency and fanboy's discretion. With its note-perfect falsetto and subterranean moisture, "Next Affair" executes that impossible fusion of Prince and Elvis Costello, its surreal come-ons telegraphing cynical acceptance of post-Tinder erotic roundelays, where liaisons end as soon as begun. On "Shiny Diamond,” Litman sets the scene with a series of images, like someone studying snapshots from an old photo album, voicing a passing thought of anyone who's spent the better part of their adulthood in Manhattan, telling a former lover in a photograph, “I will never leave your island / and you'll never grow old."

Crowded Hour was released March 28, 2018 and along with Litman’s previous releases, Postscript (2009), Outside (2012), and Primetime (2015) is available anywhere music is streamed and sold.

credits

released March 28, 2018

Written and Produced by Jeff Litman
Recorded by Jeff Litman, Nadim Issa, and Matt Basile
Mixed by Andy Thompson
Mastered by Ed Brooks

All songs written by Jeff Litman ©2018 Born Enormous Music (BMI) All Rights Reserved

Massive thanks to Traci Bransford; Kristen Agee and Danielle Mignogna at 411 Music Group; My fantastic live band—Andrea Longato, Mason Ingram, Matt Basile, Elliot Jacobson, and John Kengla; John Brodeur, Bradley Gunyon, and Seth Ondracek from my other band, Bird Streets; All the other musicians in NYC that I have the pleasure and privilege of working with; my parents, Stephen and Mitzi Litman; And the most supportive partner I could hope to have in my life, Andi Rae Healy.

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NYC-based purveyor of melodic rock n' roll.

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Track Name: One Foot Forward
Drove toward the sunset
from the east end of town
trying to assemble
all the ghosts that I carry around
alright, it’s been a while since I held my breath and leaped into the night this time, I don’t know what I’m drifting toward but the wind feels right

If you are awake,
say my name or touch my face
hold tight, you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side
I might be afraid
that if you leave I just might break
hold tight, put one foot forward or you jump out of line

Hard to decipher
all my intentions as the flitter and sway
when all I hold onto
is the excess that circles the drain
(alright) I’ve gotten good at taking no for an answer long before all this
but you’ve got something
that I don’t want to miss

If you are awake,
say my name or touch my face
hold tight, you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side I might be afraid
that if you leave I just might break
hold tight, put one foot forward or you jump out of line

I’ve been the man who talks to much
and I’ve been the one who can’t speak up
sometimes they feel the same
I’ve clung to ties and followed lust
I’ve blown with the wind and been a rock
hid my face and dreamed of fame

(alright) we’re building castles made of sand pretending they won’t fall
watching each wave crash that much closer to the wall

If you are awake,
say my name or touch my face
hold tight, you never know what’s waiting for you on the other side I might be afraid
that if you leave I just might break
hold tight, put one foot forward or you jump out of line
Track Name: Only You
Well you’ve punched yourself out looking for answers
but you still want to continue the fight
praying that that one perfect gesture
will make everything alright
but you’re not through getting nothing from nothing
and you’re certain that the odds aren’t that long
but you can’t begin to survey your losses
’til you finally admit she’s gone

So many times you’ve been burned by assuming
that there’s nothing left you can learn
Say all the lines but confuse all the meanings
it’s just to watch her churn

and you’re struggling for your balance
’til you’re stumbling ‘round the room
you keep thinking if you just go the distance
she will come back into view
but take a look around
it’s only you

well you say you find no comfort in memories
and the anguish is just your way to strut
but the image that sustains you is fading
as your eyes are swelling shut

So many times you’ve confused self-obsession
with an unrequited love
wrapped in the warmth of your own isolation
it fits you like a glove

and you’re struggling for your balance
’til you’re stumbling ‘round the room
you keep thinking if you just go the distance
she will come back into view
but take a look around
it’s only you

and you’re struggling for your balance
’til you’re stumbling ‘round the room
keep thinking if you just go the distance
she will come back into view
yeah take a look around it’s only you
but take a look around it’s only you
it’s only you
Track Name: Next Affair
I want to tickle your fancy
I want to make you relax with reckless abandon
well how about that
now, was it so random that you chose to wear that hat

was it a statement of fashion
or just a sign of the times
or was it religion?
well, that’d be just fine
now let’s break this tension before I outgrow my mind

I never said I would give my heart
it isn’t mine to share
sooner or later we’ll be back at the start
and it’s not that far
so let’s get on with the next affair

I never said I would give my heart
it isn’t mine to share
sooner or later we’ll be back at the start
and it’s not that far
so let’s get on with the next affair

let’s get on with the next affair

let’s get on with the next affair
Track Name: Shiny Diamond
There was a flicker of a candle
there was a suitcase and a knife
there was that camera that I bought you
on that damp, stale, starless night
and you were standing with that sullen look on your eyes
that I’ve seen too many times before
and you waved at me almost motionlessly as your white dress dragged across the floor

and you were just a shiny diamond
bought on the black market of hope
and I will never leave your island
and you’ll never grow old

You whispered something unintelligible
then you turned and went up the stairs
and you furrowed your face
like you heard something strange
and I knew right then that I’d never dare
it’d take a man braver than me
to tread casually in the blindness of my youth
but you pushed all my buttons
like Sam to Delilah
and I knew I couldn’t fight this truth

‘cause you were just a shiny diamond
bought on the black market of hope
and I will never leave your island
and you’ll never grow old

and if you were standing here before me
you would be no less of a ghost
and you’d linger in the air forever
like an old burnt up piece of toast

and you were just a shiny diamond
bought on the black market of hope
and I will never leave your island
and you’ll never grow old

and you were just a shiny diamond
bought on the black market of hope
and I will never leave your island
and you’ll never grow old
and you’ll never grow old
and you’ll never grow
Track Name: Crowded Hour
There’s something amiss
has it really come to this
everything we thought was permanent was fleeting
the people go by
god knows their heart’s as big as mine
would I be relieved if I could just discern some meaning
if I could just move
there’d be nothing to lose

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for
we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find

I know that look on your face
as if these years had been a maze
and every path you wandered down has led to nothing
you soldier on with your act
but you’re too weary now for that
tired clinging to the high ground you’re always seizing
if you could escape
walk away without pain

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for
we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find

If we could let go
it’d be different I know
but we clamp it down
before the blood begins to flow
if we could just move
we’d have nothing to lose

but we fall to the floor
stuck in this crowded hour we don’t know what it’s for
we rattle the cages just to make the lions roar
and bolt for the door
in the nick of time
afraid of what we might find
Track Name: Disappear
I know that I take you for granted
and I wish I could say that would change
but I want to destroy any semblance of heart
that I can see coming my way

Now, please don’t mistake my meaning
there’s part of me wants you to stay
but something inside you is making my mind do
backflips in the opposite way

and that don’t make me happy
but that don’t make me care
and you won’t forgive me
but I’ll dare

Well, I’ll probably just fall back on habit
and tell you what you want to hear
drink myself blind just to silence my mind
and hope that you just disappear
and hope that you just disappear