Considering that he is best known for playing on a couple of his father Warren’s records and then for contributing an excellent cover of “Studebaker” to an all-star tribute album following Warren’s death in 2003, it’s a smart move for Jordan Zevon to establish a set of influences other than his cult-famous dad on his debut, Insides Out. The cover of “Studebaker” is reprised here and doesn’t sound out of place, but the remainder of Insides recalls the breezy, melodic power-pop of the Go-Betweens, Fountains of Wayne, and Marshall Crenshaw far more than his father’s Excitable Boy. Though several of the songs, most notably the title track, draw inspiration from his late parents, the album attempts to establish a distinct identity for Zevon, and songs like opener “The Joke’s on Me” and lead single “This Girl” show that he has an excellent ear for a memorable melody. Unfortunately, his lyrics too often skew toward the banal (the awkwardly paced “Home” is the worst offender, with its “Home is more than memories hung on the wall” platitudes) or, like “Camila Rhodes” and “Just Do That,” read like inside jokes that never give the listener any real “in.” A couple of one-liners stand out (“There’s a message in this bottle/And I’ll drink until I find it” from “Too Late Too Be Saved” nearly carries an otherwise run-of-the-mill bit of spiritual questioning), but there simply isn’t much depth to Zevon’s songwriting at this point. And that isn’t just a matter of direct comparisons between father and son. Insides Out offers some catchy pop hooks, but it’s an album that, in spite of Zevon’s famous surname, ultimately sounds anonymous.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: