I hear Harry Hochman the way I think he wants to be heard. One of the primary ways, at least. Hochman places himself as one of the successors to the Southern California singer/songwriter sounds of artists such as Dan Fogelberg, Glenn Frey, or Jackson Browne, to name a few. He draws his foundational reference points from the 1970s to early 1980s in that particular field. I hear him belonging to that tradition.
He doesn’t wallow in it, however, or treat his songs as if they’re museum-piece material. “Inside Out” is the title track from his new album and engages both life and the world’s issues with a relatable perspective conveyed with an idiosyncratic flair for the language. Hochman houses the song within a reliable vessel, jaunty folk rock with a mandolin spin, and it makes for a successful confluence of sound that holds up even after repeated listens.
It also continues flashing more reasons for its success. Hochman’s songwriting is deceptively simple. Its appeal hinges on moments and blink-and-you-miss-it twists that nevertheless alter the song’s trajectory and final impact. Listen to the instances when Hochman switches the pace’s gears during “Inside Out” and how it affects your judgment of the song. They are small, yet masterful touches such as this that make the title song stand out as both a fantastic single and an integral part of a longer track listing.
I’m definitely a fan of Chris Murphy’s mandolin playing. It’s one of the indisputable musical hooks for “Inside Out”, but its effect on listeners isn’t cheap or crass. The mandolin acts as the spear on the tip of Hochman’s songwriting arrow and gives “Inside Out” extra zip that would have certainly otherwise lacked.
His voice is never one-dimensional. Hochman does embrace a dominant approach to interpreting the song, but layers “Inside Out” with assorted vocal fluctuations and variations. The song is richer for them. They accentuate the feeling of this song being an experience lived as you hear it performed rather than recorded and ratchet up the drama too.
Harry Hochman’s off to a fine start with this single. It is safe to say we can expect more from the release in the coming months. Hochman comes across like a finished product in many respects and perhaps years to come will reveal just how deep his talents run. I’m betting they will. “Inside Out” is exemplary in every way, but I also think it likely just scratches the surface of what Hochman can do.
So the ride from here should be interesting, indeed. I don’t think he’ll lay fallow. “Inside Out” announces the presence of a musical artist thoroughly invigorated by the process of creation, whether it’s writing the song, or else performing it. It’s a fire in Harry Hochman that only death will ever extinguish and we’re lucky we can warm ourselves by its flames for years, even decades, to come. It exudes the heat of unmistakable artistry that draws me like a moth to its light and I’m glad to bask in the glow of “Inside Out”.