I admit to being a little skeptical of Harry Hochman’s professed allegiance for singer/songwriter material ala Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Browne, and Glenn Frey. Even claiming love for other legendary artists such as Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Neil Young, among others, didn’t quell my leery spirit. Sometimes you hear this sort of thing and expect rank imitation. Hochman’s single “Inside Out”, however, is a fresh and individualistic offering in a sturdy time-tested tradition. The title track from his forthcoming debut, coming in the middle of Hochman’s life, doesn’t betray any signs of dimming energies. Hochman meets the moment with a robust sense of craft and lays a fresh coat of sparkle over-familiar elements.
I love how every minute of “Inside Out” pulses with impetus. This is a songwriter with something to say and, even better, he knows exactly how he wants to say it. It doesn’t mean, however, that he adopts an aggressive posture for delivering this song. Hochman, instead, takes a measured line of attack with listeners that doesn’t rush the performance. I like how he finds an agreeable pace early in the song and maintains it with minimal effort. It sounds like the consistent energy generated by the song emboldens him somehow without ever overshadowing the arrangement.
There are rough edges surrounding the vocals, particularly the way it utilizes supporting voices, that give the words added authenticity. It finds an effective counterbalance with Chris Murphy’s mandolin and forms a quasi-duet of sorts. The interplay is very real, however, you wish to characterize it. The cumulative process he takes towards introducing the song to listeners in full plays to its advantage as well.
I believe he’s found the right duration for this tune. Hochman is wise to never overextend the listener’s patience for the song’s subject matter, though his charm is never in short supply. It’s another area where he shows the skill set of an experienced composer; “Inside Out” cuts to the chase from beginning to end and avoids any self-indulgent sideshows possibly plaguing less experienced songwriters.
It works well as a standalone track or part of a longer work. Leading off with the title track as an album single is, for me, a shot across the bow from Hochman that he means business. It isn’t a shallow offering, by any stretch of the imagination. Its ability to work apart from the album’s remaining tracks makes it an ideal choice for Hochman to put his best musical foot forward in the run-up to the full album release.
He’s hit on a workable union of heartland rock and Americana that’s bursting with California bounce. His mastery of setting an effective tempo comes across throughout “Inside Out” and I doubt it will fail him on other tracks. There’s an instinctive hand guiding this single from its first note through the last that knows the right trajectory to travel with listeners and the constant balance he keeps between the song’s musical and lyric elements is crucial to its success.
This is an excellent way to kick off an ongoing relationship with Harry Hochman’s work. I’m eager to hear the rest of Inside Out’s running order.