Insides Out

Jordan Zevon

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Insides Out Review

by Mark Deming

Jordan Zevon is best known to music fans as Warren Zevon's son: he played on several of his dad's albums; helped produce Warren's final disc, The Wind; and has performed some of his father's songs on a pair of tribute albums. But Warren Zevon fans expecting Jordan's first album on his own to be a sonic chip off the old block are in for a surprise -- Insides Out is an accomplished and impressive debut, but it follows a musical path a great deal different than the trail Warren Zevon blazed. The Beatles are a far more recognizable influence on Insides Out than the elder Zevon, and Jordan's smart, energetic pop tunes suggest that Elvis Costello, XTC, and Fountains of Wayne get heavy rotation on his personal playlist; the tunes are well-crafted, hook-laden pop with rich, buoyant keyboards, sharp guitar accents, and lyrics that balance wit with a keen observational eye. While "American Standard" reflects a bit of the same cynicism that was Warren's trademark, the upbeat melody adds a joyful irony to the song that's smart and engaging, and his homage to the ultimate teenage girl ("Camila Rhodes") and the romantic puzzlement of "Home" and "This Girl" show that Jordan has a voice that's very much his own. At the three-quarter mark, Jordan includes a performance of one of his father's lesser-known tunes, "Studebaker," and it's not until then that his vocal resemblance to Warren comes to the fore; elsewhere, Jordan wisely pursues a sound and approach that stand comfortably on their own, and his quick-witted, classicist's approach to pop reflects that the guy took his sweet time honing his talents before making his way to the recording studio. For fans of smart pop, Insides Out is an unexpected delight and the calling card of a major talent to watch.

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