Justin Levinson isn’t particularly a household name, but with his electric mix of hearth throbbing-infused aesthetics and country-tinged balladry, he would be right at home in a climate of top 40 melodic guitar rock. Justin Levinson is a few albums deep, and has just recently released his new record, This Side of Me, This Side of You, alongside his backing group, The Valcours.

The album features ten new tracks that range from soulful and pretty to downright pop melodramatics. His lyrics tackle topics such as love, heartbreak, and finding happiness through trials and hardships and all that otherwise sappy cliches that somehow seem clearly sincere and remarkable through Levinson’s soothing and varied voice.

The greatest strength here with Levinson is clearly the instrumentation, which seethes with an honesty that is missing from typical top 40 flair. John Mayer’s recent output could have a thing to learn. He never overextends a song into senseless melodrama, always keeping it restrained yet comfortable in its own skin, a sincerity that is very much needed in a musical climate that focuses strongly on manufactured ideals.

“Love You Goodbye” is heartwarming and though lyrically idealistic, it is a perfect representation of Levinson’s sound, hesitant naivety of a man whose aspirations are wide and open and drowning in adoration, yet tinged with a mild recklessness and jadedness that really plays the song well.

For those deeply seeking a singer-songwriter style that places pop hooks as a focus, and refines that with a calming voice and approachable lyrics, Justin Levinson and the Valcours is the right place to be. Some like their music fun and naive, and some like it with a nice heaping spoonful of introspection. Levinson’s music fits right in place with sharing ice cream with a pretty girl on a Friday night.