Clad in an electric blue blazer, Jeff LeBlanc gazes downward on the cover of Vision, his fourth studio album, which dropped this week and is now available on iTunes.
The bold wardrobe choice sets the tone for the seven songs on the Center Moriches-raised singer/songwriter’s most recent album—strong, diverse and reflective of his desire to take his music career to the next level.
LeBlanc attended Center Moriches High School, where he attributes a recording techniques class as his first formal introduction to the music world. “Once I learned the basics of recording, the [music] bug kind of bit me,” he says. Though LeBlanc continued to dabble in music, he went to Sacred Heart University in Connecticut to study history and education, with an eye toward becoming a teacher. After graduation, he found himself playing music all the time and soon changed his career path.
“It was a risky move, but I can always go back and teach,” muses LeBlanc about the decision to pursue music full time. “Sometimes I feel we put our lives in fast-forward too quickly,” he says, referring to the pressure the 20-something generation feels to achieve traditional benchmarks of success early in life.
LeBlanc is widely recognized for his ability to take what he’s feeling, and issues that he faces, and turn them into song lyrics that resonate with fans. “I want people to listen to music the way I listen to music,” says LeBlanc. “I want people to feel something when they listen to the album, to take away from the lyrics.”
For example, the third track on Vision is titled “Say Anything You Want.” LeBlanc and co-writer Liz Longley were inspired by a feeling that people doubt them, or doubt their choices. “You can say anything you want about me, and I’m still going to feel good,” says LeBlanc of the song.
“I think [being successful] comes down to still writing good music, because if you don’t write something people listen to, it doesn’t matter what you do,” LeBlanc says. He does, however, value collaborative work. Vision, which was recorded in Nashville, features songs co-written with Longley and Kevin Garrett.
LeBlanc is currently working as his own agent and booking his own shows, explaining that agents are only worthwhile if they’re a good fit, otherwise you risk losing creative autonomy, or are simply sitting on a roster. “You want to get to that point where people feel that mystique like, ‘I can’t miss that show,’” says LeBlanc of his strategy for promoting his work. “It’s the Hansel and Gretel theory. You give a little crumb, then you give another crumb.” Hopefully, people continue chasing you for more. “There are different ways to the top of the mountain,” LeBlanc says. “It’s all about creating your own mystique.”
His goal is to become a national household name. “I’d love to go to every city and have a few hundred people come up,” says LeBlanc. “A benchmark moment would be to feel like you don’t have to bug your friends to come to shows anymore. I’m almost [at that level].”
LeBlanc’s first foray into performing live occurred in downtown Westhampton Beach, at the Beach Bakery Café. “I attribute those shows to chipping my teeth in a way. People are yelling at you, they want you to learn a certain song. There are babies running around,” says LeBlanc. “Those early gigs were the perfect start for me, because it wasn’t really beautiful.”
Soon after, he was asked to open his first show at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.
“The coolest moment for me was getting to play the theater [Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center] with Brett Dennen,” says LeBlanc. “It was like I used to play right there, at the Beach Bakery, and I never thought I’d get in here [WHBPAC].”
He’s since played at WHBPAC multiple times, and has come a long way from playing the Beach Bakery to opening for such heavy hitters as Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat, Luke Bryan, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls and Matt Nathanson, in addition to touring solo. His next WHBPAC show is scheduled for June 19, when he’ll open for Duncan Sheik.
“I’m excited to play with Sheik, because I’ve always liked him. [Sheik’s hit] “Barely Breathing” is one of the first songs I ever liked,” says LeBlanc. As for his performance, “I’ll be playing solo, a lot of my new stuff.”
For more information, visit jeffleblancmusic.com