Ali Hoffman
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Ali Hoffman

South Orange, New Jersey, United States | INDIE

South Orange, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Soul


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"Soulful In Astoria: A Budding Singer With Vivid Intensity"

Ali Hoffman’s first brush with music came at an early age. Her father owned several restaurants in downtown Philadelphia, and after school, she would go down to one of the establishments and wait for him to finish work while drinking Shirley Temples and listening to the eclectic music that was always playing.

“It was a mishmash of everything,” Hoffman said, “from Fine Young Cannibals and Sinead O’Connor, to Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. Eventually, when my dad sold the restaurant and bequeathed the tape collection to me, it started from there and became an obsession.”

Raised on such a mix, but especially the sounds of jazz, blues and soul, the 24-year-old Astoria resident is now making her own music. This August, Hoffman will release her debut album, called “This Side of Morning,” which showcases her soulful vocal delivery. While the album, which was recorded in Astoria, carries a soul influence, it also contains elements of pop and roots music.

Hoffman didn’t always plan to pursue a music career, thinking instead about becoming a zoologist. But after high school she realized there wasn’t anything that satisfied her more than music.

Hearing Janis Joplin the first time sealed the deal. “It was a huge watershed moment for me,” Hoffman said. “She and Nina Simone blew my world wide open, and I was like, ‘I gotta do this.’”

Hoffman got a record deal through the efforts of Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, who was also her former writing professor at the University of Pennsylvania. A friend of his, Joe Rosenthal, the founder of Wing Court Records, was looking for talent. “Anthony was like, ‘I know this singer; you might want to check her out,’” says Hoffman. “He gave him my information.”

In his liner notes to “This Side of Morning,” Rosenthal, who is also the album’s executive producer, described what he felt when he heard Hoffman sing: “It was about halfway through the audition that the chills started to run down my spine. Her initial restraint transformed into vivid intensity, and I had the sense of watching something rare and beautiful unfold.”

Hoffman recorded her album with other musicians at a studio called Buddy Project in Astoria. The songs are not her own but include compositions by Joni Mitchell and Barbara Lynn, who is famous for her 1962 piece “You’ll Lose a Good Thing.”

Aside from being the place where “This Side of Morning” was made, Astoria has been Hoffman’s home since 2006.

“I just totally fell in love with it,” she said. “I felt like it had so much character. Being a totally foodie I love how you can go into all these Euromarkets and they had olive bars and 20 different kinds of feta.”

Although Hoffman is just releasing her debut record, and is scheduled to do a show in her hometown of Philadelphia on Aug. 14, she is already thinking about the next album, which will include songs she has written.

“This Side of Morning” will be released on Aug. 4. - The Queens Chronicle

"Ali Hoffman, This Side of Morning, Album Review"

Sometimes the discovery of a new artist can come from so far out of the blue there are no clues it's coming. Ali Hoffman, a Philadelphia woman living now in Queens, fell in love with music growing up. Her father ran a bar and gave Hoffman live tapes of the bands that played there. It didn't take long for the young girl to jump into the deep end and start chasing the thrills herself. Album executive producer Joe Rosenthal fell in too, and started a label to record the woman's debut. Fortunately for all, the singer has a strong and stirring voice, which makes the chase worthwhile. Ali Hoffman will never overpower us, a good thing really. There is such a winsome sweetness at her core--whether she's up or down--that her vocals slip inside the heart like a warm secret. This Side Of Morning stays mostly in a rootsy groove, though there's enough sophistication the sound is never dated. The rhythm section isn't too slick, while the horns punch the songs around just enough to never get in the way. There's plenty of Memphis and Philadelphia in the mix so Hoffman ends up with the best of both worlds, and Matt Hageman's ultra-tasty guitar always brings everything home. Though the singer isn't a songwriter yet, those who surround her with music are more than up for the occasion, and a few originals, like "Fantastic," "Days Go By" and "When You Left Me" get close enough to greatness to promise very good things for this newcomer. And just to make sure no one misses that fact, a smoldering cover of Barbara Lynn's rhythm & blues boulder "You'll Lose a Good Thing" is taken all the way to the river. Ali Hoffman shows us this is no sideline and steps into the spotlight more than ready for her close-up. - Sonicboomers

"Ali Hoffman, This Side of Morning, 4 Stars"

The rock world has enough pop divas and sensitive singer-songwriting women. So it’s nice to hear an artist like Ali Hoffman come along, bringing a little more grit to the stylistic party. The difference is immediately apparent with the opening song, “Roses,” which swaggers out with some stinging slide guitar riding over soul-ish keyboards as Hoffman introduces herself with a sassy vocal. Most of the rest of “This Side Of Morning” meets the impressive standard set by the opening song. Hoffman doesn’t write these songs, and she was actually “discovered” by Joe Rosenthal, a former writer for “Rolling Stone” magazine who owns Wing Court Records, produced the CD and gathered the songs for “This Side Of Morning.” But the singing talent is all Hoffman’s, and she makes the material sound like her own. That’s a talent that’s sometimes far too underrated. — Alan Sculley
If you like this, try Anne McCue, Susan Tedeschi. - NH Let's Go

"Ali Hoffman: Soulful Sounds From Penn Alum"

Ali Hoffman sounds like she was raised on classic records from the Stax, Atlantic, and Hi Records vaults. The 26 year-old Philadelphia native has a new five-song EP, How Our Love Has Grown (on Wing Court Records), which conjures up varying degrees of soul music. “Keep Me Satisfied” brings to mind the grooves of Willie Mitchell-produced records like Al Green’s “I’m Still In Love You”; on the ballad “My Love,” Hoffman pulls on her inner Janis Joplin to deliver a sultry performance. On her song “Miracle,” (which you can download below) she sounds like the sweet side of a young Aretha Franklin. Hoffman’s voice is confident, wise sounding and compelling.

The University of Penn alum (Class of 2006) got her record deal in an interesting somebody-who-knows somebody kind of way. When Hoffman was at Penn, one of her teachers was author, music critic and Grammy Award-winner Anthony DeCurtis. After hearing some of her music, DeCurtis introduced her to Joe Rosenthal who at the time was starting his label Wing Court Records. Hoffman released her debut full length album, This Side Of Morning, in 2009. Currently she is working on material on her next EP and lining up some shows in the area. -


How Our Love Has Grown, 2010 (EP)
WXPN, Philadelphia NPR: "Miracle," "Blues Of It All"
WVLT, NJ: "My Love"

This Side of Morning, 2009 (LP)
WVLT, NJ: "You'll Lose a Good Thing," "Just For Old Times"
KAFM, CO: "You'll Lose a Good Thing



Ali Hoffman is a Philadelphia native with a soft spot for cheese steaks and great American music. She began singing about the time she could crawl, and it wasn't long before she fell for the great soul and jazz singers Nina Simone, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, and Aretha Franklin, hastened by a dive into her bar-owner father's old tape collection. As she was exposed to more music—the Stax, Hi and Motown greats, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and contemporaries like Wilco, Norah Jones, and Thom Yorke — she forged a musical identity that is equal parts raw emotion and sweet melody, shot through with a sharp lyrical wit.

Ali moved from Philadelphia to New York City to pursue her musical journey amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan and spanikopita of Astoria. A fortuitous connection brought her to Wing Court Records in 2009 year, and her debut, “This Side of Morning,” was laid down over the course of two rapid-fire weekends at the Buddy Project Studios (Sufjan Stevens) in Queens with a backing band that included Matt Hageman on guitar, Jeremy Voss on keys, Jeremy Kay (Nicole Atkins) on bass, and Randy Schrager (Scissor Sisters) on drums. The New Jersey-based horn section of Ken Fink, Ben Williams, and Steve Carangelo is featured on several of the tracks.

“This Side of Morning” traverses a sonic terrain that is grounded in American roots and soul music, but shaped by myriad modern influences. Of the release, former Warner Music SVP Bill Bentley wrote: “There is such a winsome sweetness at her core -- whether she's up or down -- that her vocals slip inside the heart like a warm secret.”The 1962 Barbara Lynn single “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” is Morning’s penultimate track, and one of the album’s highlights. I’s a stunning vocal and musical performance caught in the amber on a blistering hot June afternoon last summer.

?For her follow-up, 2010’s “How Our Love Has Grown” Hoffman and her band explored a grittier sound, focusing more squarely on R&B. ??“I grew up singing soul and blues music,” Hoffman notes, “and this past year I fell in love. I want you to be able to hear that in these songs.”

Hoffman co-wrote three of the tracks on the five-song release – first single “Miracle,” “Blues Of It All” and “Spanish Song.” Bandmates Voss and Hageman shared songwriting credit on the three tunes.

“Writing with them was easy because they each have such an impressive breadth of musical knowledge,” Hoffman says. “All I needed to say was ‘Let's take it to Soultown,’ and they knew exactly what I meant.”

The release’s other two tracks, “My Love” and “Keep Me Satisfied,” were written by bassist Kay and collaborator Michael Clifford.

The record was recorded earlier this year, again at The Buddy Project, with studio owner and engineer Kieran Kelly at the console. The album was produced by Wing Court Records owner Joe Rosenthal. The band remains as it was on Hoffman’s debut album, with a new horn section featuring Evan Schwam (baritone sax), Charles Lee (tenor sax), and Satoru Ohashi (trombone and trumpet).

Of the new release, WXPN’s Bruce Warren writes: “Songs like ‘Keep Me Satisfied’ bring to mind the grooves of Willie Mitchell-produced records like Al Green’s ‘I’m Still In Love You’; on the ballad ‘My Love,’ Hoffman pulls on her inner Janis Joplin to deliver a sultry performance. On her song ‘Miracle,’ she sounds like the sweet side of a young Aretha Franklin. Hoffman’s voice is confident, mature and compelling.”

Hoffman is working on material for a follow-up now, and will enter the studio in January 2011 for her next release.?