Harry Hochman’s “Inside Out”

Midwesterner by birth, transplanted to Southern California, Harry Hochman’s “Inside Out” manages to cover all of the bases as well. The single and title song from his soon-to-be-released debut carries on the approach of singer/songwriters such as Neil Young, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Browne, and Jay Farrar into the future from an artist who long deferred their musical ambitions but now chases them in earnest. It doesn’t bowl listeners over, but there’s a definite sense when hearing “Inside Out” that songs such as this have simmered within Harry Hochman for many years. He’s unleashing his Muse now and the modern musical landscape is better for it.

There’s a lot about “Inside Out” that speaks to experiences lived. It isn’t a song that’s an anguished cry from the heart or any other such musical adventure into human despair. It doesn’t view our everyday lives through rose-colored glasses, however, and its plain-spoken poetry gains immeasurably from Hochman’s musical treatment. The near-rousing feel that Hochman’s arrangement encourages gives his songwriting extra urgency as well. He adopts the role of observer and commentator for this song quite well.

The mandolin and electric guitar exchange solid melodies throughout the arrangement. The mandolin is a more constant presence than the latter as Chris Murphy’s playing essentially doubles the effect of the song’s acoustic guitar. It isn’t difficult to hear this song’s beginnings and, if you do, it helps you appreciate even more the way Hochman’s developed the song with a full-band arrangement.

There are assorted poetic touches heard throughout the lyrics. Hochman, for the most part, keeps things as straightforward as possible. He sings with such full-on emotion that it’s easy to get lost in this performance. The musical world he creates holds that kind of allure for listeners such as myself and it surprised me that the song runs as long as it does, a little over four minutes, after hearing it for the first time. It sounded shorter somehow.

It’s a reflection of the artistic discipline that Hochman brings to his music. “Inside Out” doesn’t just go in for a bit of social commentary, there’s that in the song, sure, but his writing has wider application that requires focus and commitment to successfully blend in with other concerns. Hochman does it without even the quietest hiccup. “Inside Out” is a fully realized song, checking off boxes on every level, and it isn’t hard to hear why Hochman picked it as a single.

It sets the bar high for everything that follows. Harry Hochman, however, sounds like he’s ready to meet that challenge with the same intelligence, skill, and casual gracefulness defining this single. “Inside Out” is an excellent title track, a fine standalone composition, and should foster a lot of buzz for the full-length album. I know I’m going to be searching it out and I can promise that many of you will agree. It has everything that a music devotee enamored with thoughtful songwriting could ever ask for and carries itself with loose, confident bearing.

Clay Burton