Harry Hochman’s “Inside Out” definitely turned my expectations inside out. I expected sedate, even slightly neutered, “dad” songs long divorced from youth’s urgency and, instead, mired in the hopelessly staid waters. The single and title track from his pending debut collection, scheduled for release near the end of the first week in October, has startling vitality and a clear direction. It’s often said that debuting novelists will shoot their proverbial artistic wad with first books that chronicle the sum of their experiences up to that point and then have nothing left to follow that up with. I believe you can say the same for debuting songwriters/bands. Harry Hochman, however, doesn’t risk that. A single listen to “Inside Out” convinces me that Hochman has plenty to say, and that “Inside Out” barely scratches the surface of what he will do.
There are hints of grandeur nibbling around the edges of this song. The expansive texture Hochman outfits the song with has an underrated cinematic allure that threatens to explode onto a larger screen. It’s a song that keeps listeners on their toes; once I began listening, I couldn’t stop. Hochman never pushes the song’s tempo, but it nonetheless generates the necessary velocity to carry listeners along with an inexorable sweep.
You can hear the direct wordplay of Hochman’s “Inside Out” as representative of the entire album. The song’s lyrics benefit from expert craftsmanship, without question, but Hochman always manages to keep his language focused in a conversational direction. It’s distinguished, however, but the extra emotional wallop that Hochman’s voice conveys and even the ragged but right quality of the backing vocals underlines the song’s lyrical merits.
I am a big fan of the wide-open interpretation Hochman provides. He’s never dictating terms to listeners but, instead, communicating from a place deep within and letting listeners do the rest as they will. He’s emotionally engaged with every passage and he’s clearly an attentive singer sensitive to the need to tailor his voice to the arrangement. It makes “Inside Out” an even more formidable listen.
It’s good that he waited this long to steer himself fully into recording and releasing music. “Inside Out” has an added aura of specialness thanks to its extended gestation. We’re hearing a singer/songwriter time tempers rather than neuters and emerging with polished artistry instead of logging a long apprenticeship. Harry Hochman’s work skips painful or fumbling evolutions. “Inside Out” sounds, instead, like the opening salvo for a musical artist’s prime.
I want to hear more. I am likewise sure that discerning listeners will reach the same conclusion after even a single play. Hochman comes across as a man born for this role and exudes musicality with the same effortlessness of breathing. “Inside Out” sounds like a song that’s always been out there drifting in the ether, and we can be thankful Hochman was listening at the right time to pluck it out of the air. It’s a track that will stay with you long after listening to it for the first time.
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