Jeff LeBlanc Performs at Jittery’s

Photo by Laura Green '18 | Singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc performed at Jittery’s on Nov. 12.

Photo by Laura Green ’18 | Singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc performed at Jittery’s on Nov. 12.

 

Laura Green ’18
Contributing Writer

Jeff LeBlanc, a singer/songwriter who grew up on Long Island, performed at Jittery’s in the Campus Center TV Lounge on Nov. 12. His versatile and dynamic voice filled the intimate space and kept the tone light, even while playing very personal songs. His acoustic set was, above all, fun and energetic.

On stage and off, LeBlanc is friendly and light-hearted. When I spoke to him after the show, we discussed his new album, “Vision,”  his fourth studio release. He said he wants his music to be pleasant and listenable, and has tried to make this album more upbeat than his previous one, “My Own Way There.” Despite going through a recent breakup, he wanted to avoid being too “sappy.” He explained, “It’s easy to write a slow song.”

The resulting album has great variety while remaining true to LeBlanc’s sound. It ranges from “Say Anything You Want,” which he described as “the closest I get to country,” to “Stumbled,” which has a more R&B approach. LeBlanc told the crowd that the former was about going back to your hometown and “running into everyone you went to high school with,” an experience many college students are familiar with. It’s a confident response to the “people who doubt you, who don’t understand you.”

Since the beginning of his 10-year career, LeBlanc has played at many colleges and universities around the Northeast. He said this is a nostalgic experience for him because he started out playing in his dorm room at Sacred Heart University. At one point in the performance, LeBlanc strung together five songs, starting with “Blackbird” by the Beatles and ending with Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.” “I love this, this is just like playing at a dorm party,” he enthused.

LeBlanc performs anywhere and everywhere, from what he calls “chicken finger shows” in the cafeterias of colleges to large theaters opening for major acts such as David Archuleta and the Goo Goo Dolls. This variety is one of the things he appreciates most about performing. Concerning playing at colleges, he said, “I get to see places I otherwise wouldn’t be able to.” He said it’s especially exciting for him to be able to perform with artists he’s listened to since he was a teenager, citing Third Eye Blind as an example.

LeBlanc is a very honest performer. As an audience member, you get to see many different sides of him. I now feel as if I’ve known him for a long time, because of the ease with which he carries himself and the openness of his songwriting. His songs tell a narrative of his life, whether he’s cutting off a negative friendship (“Occupy”) or questioning his own anxiety (“Why Do I Worry”). He’s a storyteller.

This storytelling continues onstage. He tells the audience about his day, makes jokes and asks the audience questions. LeBlanc has a way of connecting with the crowd and bringing them together. He responds to the audience’s energy, making sure that everyone has a good time. If you go to one of his shows, you will be treated to such antics as him pretending to have a British accent, spontaneously creating a “bro country” song and making plenty of sarcastic comments.

Both LeBlanc’s personality and music are simply likeable. His songs are upbeat and sincere. His style is reminiscent of 2000s alt-rock singers like Matt Nathanson and Howie Day. However, especially in his most recent album, LeBlanc’s music is very much in the present. The soulful blending of folk and pop-rock keep him from being pigeonholed into the singer/songwriter genre. It’s music that makes you want to curl up under a blanket and forget about your stresses.

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