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Debbie Neigher has never let the piano get away with being just a piano; her provocative songwriting and years of classical training command the force of a full band on the keys. Her nuanced, jazz-infused vocals are testaments to a life lived beyond her 24 years, narrating topics ranging from moving across the country to sexual assault to wondering what happened to her childhood best friend. Neigher’s recently completed debut LP combines these honest stories with intricate piano playing and the colors of the Magik*Magik Orchestra (Death Cab for Cutie, Third Eye Blind), creating kaleidoscopic vignettes of her personal growth over 10 stunning tracks.
Without an apartment or job waiting for her, the then-twenty-two year old Neigher fearlessly uprooted herself from her native state of New Jersey and flew across the country to San Francisco to pursue her music fully. By night, Neigher began to gig as a solo artist at renowned venues like Yoshi’s San Francisco Jazz Club. By day, she works at a non-profit organization located in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. She gives vocal and piano lessons and teaches creative writing to homeless youth, empowering them to express themselves creatively and leave street life. “It’s one less hour they’re on the streets,” Neigher says with fervor.
In what she calls “a massive honor,” John Vanderslice, solo pop-folk artist and owner of Tiny Telephone Recording Studio, offered to produce her debut record (his past work includes indie greats Spoon and The Mountain Goats). After an intensive eleven days in the studio, she hand delivered reels of her analog tapes to Los Angeles where it was mastered. The album was released on July 26, 2011.