Everything about singer-songwriter Jay Brannan's young career is improbable. Defying legions of critics both personal and professional, he has managed to build a shockingly dedicated following in a very non-traditional way. Urged to stick to society's conventions during his Southern upbringing, Brannan has become a lightning rod for castaways by simply being himself: a neurotic and inspiring mess. A New Yorker by way of Texas, California, and several stops in between, he first made headlines as an actor in John Cameron Mitchell's 2006 indie film sensation Shortbus, offering an international platform for his first full-length musical release Goddamned (2008), which made its debut as the No. 25 overall Top Album on iTunes.
While admitting he usually prefers sparse, unadorned music ("I'm not crazy about electric guitar, and percussion scares the shit out of me"), Brannan wanted to add some new instrumental textures to the mix for his second full-length album of originals. So he set his sights on working with Grammy-winning producer David Kahne, whose resume includes such notables as Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney, and The Bangles. The result is Rob Me Blind (2012), Brannan's latest album, which features Kahne's thoughtful production while maintaining the signature qualities of a Brannan album: brutal honesty, sharp wit, and sparkling melodies.
Brannan's tenor voice, combined with painfully honest lyrics addressing taboo subjects, has caught the attention of critics at such influential outlets as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, which proclaimed that Brannan "makes even the saddest lyrics easy on the ear." Of course, not all of Brannan's lyrics are sad. "The things I say often get me into trouble," says the singer, laughing. "The world pretends to glorify opinions and individuality, but really everyone is so terrified that anything might exist outside the traditional or the mainstream. I think that's a big reason why I do what I do. For some reason, people can tolerate the truth a bit more when it's put to music."