"The Dream Of Life: Set Yourself Free is excellent, chock-full of polished melodies and contagious rhythms. ..
Littman’s voice projects ineffable
sonic tones and crystalline textures
that dazzle the listener’s auditory senses."
Karen Littman has been writing songs as long as she’s been breaking rules. Growing up on Long Island, it was all part of being creative and figuring out her way of doing things. Decades after penning those first tunes about family and relationship challenges that she and other kids faced, this natural gift for bucking convention brilliantly serves her as a unique singer songwriter releasing her debut album The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free.
The title of her album conveys the emotional scope of her journey of self-discovery that probes life’s mysterious questions. The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free has 16 tracks that fully communicate her very personal twist on the classic “Hero’s Journey.” “You go along trying to figure out what you’re here to do,” she says. “You’re thrown into the fire yet come out triumphant after realizing you’re going to be okay — and you’re always okay because after all is said and done, you’re your own home.”
The eclectic Bay Area based artist uses a vast array of musical and rhythmic vibes to drive her thoughtful lyrics from the arc of despair and struggle to glorious prisms of light and enduring hope. Karen creates two versions of “Living in Another Dimension.” One is a Peter Gabrielesque pop song, the other a rollicking Paul Simon type, African groove. In the mystical, philosophical “Where Is Home?” she creates a hybrid vibe she describes as “The Doors meets Radiohead” - a spirited combination of old and new that perfectly reflects her multi-faceted musical talents.
Fifteen tracks on The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free were produced by Joel Jaffe, the renowned engineer and producer of Studio D in Sausalito, CA who has worked with Maria Muldaur, Lenny Williams and Magic Christian, among others.
The lively pop/R&B flavored “A Little Help,” a song about dreams being delayed, slipping away, and being regained, was produced by Emmy and multi-Grammy Award winning drummer, artist and producer Narada Michael Walden (Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder). In 2015, Karen and Walden teamed up with Academy Award winning director John Korty to create an uplifting video for the song to give a face to homelessness in America and offer it to nonprofit organizations for use in their campaigns for awareness and fundraising.
The first songs that evolved into The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free were written in a flood of creativity while penning 17 songs for “Every Body Has a Brain” an interactive musical brain game created by her company Morphonix™ LLC. Morphonix, a pioneer in recognizing the huge need for alternative educational tools that stimulate children to learn about their brains in school and at home, has been developing award-winning games, apps, songs and stories for more than 25 years. Under Karen’s leadership, Morphonix has received more than $6 million in federal grants from the National Institutes of Health, Small Business Innovation Research Program to pursue these goals.
“I started writing ‘The Dream of Life’ and ‘Becoming Visible’ and thought to myself, I’m going to start writing for grownups again and for me as a way to heal,” she says. “Writing for adults I was able to express my deepest emotions and feelings, be my most honest and pure self. When I write kids songs, I always have an objective of what I need to express. My own songs flow more naturally, and sometimes it’s not until much later that I understand the subconscious reasons why I wrote them.”
Karen wrote the bulk of the songs that comprise The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free over the past year. Her path suddenly changed direction when her long marriage ended and she found herself on her own again after 22 years. She and her husband sold their home, she moved into a rental and started the healing process. She chose not to watch television, spending most of her free time alone in silence continuing her life-long tendency to ponder life’s big questions: What’s the meaning of life? Who am I? Where is home? What’s it like on the other side? Is life a dream?
During this time and over the preceding three or four years, she discovered some answers to these questions. Emotional breakthroughs led her to realize that 1) Perfection is not my friend; 2) Love comes from within; and 3) Time is in my mind. “These themes grew into the songs on this album,” Karen says. “They tell the story of my search for the meaning of life and my journey back to me. This has been a year of change, courage and trust as I faced fears and looked for the light on the darkest of days. The songs are about my journey to heal, live my dreams and set myself free. All the songs on this project are about my discovery that we’re all on a journey down an ever-changing path. We don’t always know where we’re going but the only way out is through.” She hopes that her songs can inspire people to heal, live their dreams and set themselves free from “the poison, all the gunk and gook that’s holding you back.”
“Working through all of these personal issues has tuned me into the difficult reality that a lot of people out there are hurting for a great many reasons these days,” she says. “Many are feeling vulnerable and lost, as if the rug has been pulled out beneath them. We’re in a uniquely troubled time where we all have a distinct choice between love and fear. We need to find a way to heal all of us, because we’re slowly destroying the world. There seems to be more that divides us than ever before, but I think we really need each other even more to overcome this sense of futility. Because when you hurt someone else you are really hurting yourself.”
“In my work with children,” Karen adds, “I chose to teach about the brain, because if kids understand how the brain works, they will have a better understanding about how to use it to make the world a better place for themselves. Likewise, as adults, people we know may not be going through exactly the same things we are, but they still need our help. With these songs, I’m saying it’s okay to reach out and tell them how you’re feeling – because it might just help them get through what they’re going through.”