With his scruffy-model good looks and his equally unkempt Springsteen-meets-Replacements approach to the singer-songwriter racket, New Jersey native Pete Yorn has held onto his place on Columbia's roster all decade thanks to a few modest hit singles and a knack for landing songs in TV and movies. Leaving behind the trilogy comprised by his first three albums, Yorn's cheekily titled new Back and Fourth was recorded in the onetime indie hotbed of Omaha, Nebraska, with that scene's inveterate Mike Mogis. It's always been easy to root for Yorn, given his casual charisma and a rugged endurance that places him closer to the old-school ranks of Tom Petty than today's field of overblown belters and sappy balladeers. Fresh off an opening stint for Coldplay and as usual armed with a crack backing band, Yorn remains one of the few major-label powerhouses who still feels like an underdog. With even Rick Rubin having a hand in it, perhaps Back and Fourth will prove more of a charm for Yorn than ever before.
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