Theo Katzman is a New Yorker who attended the University of Michigan and has since been completely adopted by Ann Arbor and its family of folk music elites. After a successful run with local favorites My Dear Disco, Katzman has made an equally successful run as a solo musician. With a solid acoustic EP already under his belt, Katzman is looking to further feed off that jump-start with the release of his first full-length album, “Romance Without Finance.”

Let me get some of the comparisons out of the way. Katzman sounds like a diligent student of the John Mayer school who had Jason Mraz streaming through his headphones, all the while dreaming of escaping to a more folk-oriented environment. This isn’t to say he doesn’t have his own sound – but there is no great artist apart from great influences, and “Romance Without Finance” is a beautiful stirring of influences that makes for something simultaneously fresh and familiar. This is accessible indie/folk rock on the surface with underlying tones of soul and R&B. Acoustic island-rock vibes bubble to the surface on occasion, and the electric guitar solos are short, sweet and well-placed. Katzman’s lyrics have an everyday-commentary feel, highlighting glimpses of love and loneliness and possibility seen between the monotonous and mundane. He consistently demonstrates an ability to remain positive without shying away from pain and disappointment, and his words often sound like they’re being pushed through a big, wide smile.

The backbone of these songs is Katzman’s sincere voice and expertly-wielded acoustic guitar. His chord progressions are creative and catchy, especially on “White Picket Castle” and album opener “Every Few Days,” which is the kind of song you hear on the radio and look up online as soon as you get home. Easy-listening rambler “Country Backroads” begins with a hushed guitar and an even more hushed Katzman reminiscing more than singing then slowly builds into a rocking anthem about enjoying the simpler things. Katzman is perhaps at his best at the album’s midpoint “You Could Never Know,” a confident and relatable jam with a subtle edge and infinite repeat value.

Theo Katzman has spent the last few years solidifying himself as one of the area’s leading musical talents, and for those still questioning his potential as a solo musician, this album should be all the proof they need.

About the Author

Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul studies at the University of Michigan by day and explores Ann Arbor for the best music and entertainment by night. You can find him at the Blind Pig promoting his favorite bands or standing in line outside the State Theater on Saturday nights. If you have any insider info on upcoming films/bands, just motion for him to take his headphones off because he wants to hear about it.