At some point in our lives everyone experiences a broken heart, and that's no doubt why love and heartbreak are such most prominent songwriting topics. Artists have made whole careers from their bruised love life, but now the Broken Hearted Club has a new leader: meet Tobias Jesso Jr.
Not so long ago, things weren't too peachy for Jesso Jr. After struggling as a songwriter in LA and returning to care for his sick mother in Canada (all whilst going through a difficult break up) he ended up at his sister's piano – and that's where things started to change. 'Goon' is an album that comes as a result of this time in Jesso's life, where emotions are expressed in a way that is both incredibly personal and at once relatable in its suffering.
Opening with 'Can't Stop Thinking About You', with its jazz chords and honest admission of post-relationship obsession whilst glossy strings layer the background, it encompasses a delicate honesty that doesn't strive to impress, but instead reaches out for emotional support and bears everything to the listener. There is nowhere to hide – this is an act of undressing the wounds in order to help them heal.
In comparison to the demo versions of these songs which first appeared in online last year, it's pleasing to note that Chet White's influence over the production has only enhanced the appeal of Jesso Jr's songwriting. Take 'How Could You Babe' and 'Just A Dream' where the addition of backing vocals, sweeping strings and '60s style drums make only to enhance the honesty and character of Jesso Jr's knack to tug at your heartstrings.
It makes the Lennon/McCartney influence even stronger, so that – at times – the album feels effortlessly vintage. Songs such as 'Hollywood' and 'Leaving LA' further establish Jesso Jr's ability to write songs that carefully articulate his pain and helplessness. As Jesso Jr remorsefully sighs "I think I'm gonna die in Hollywood" and dissonant brass bludgeon away at the harsh piano chords, you can almost see the lights of LA blink out one by one.
'Goon' is not perfect, but it's the imperfections and the straight honesty that bleeds through it that make it so appealing. It's full of ballads for the suffering. It's for smoky, late nights of reflection and proves that sometimes being brutally honest about the situation you have found yourself in – whether that be love, work, family – can help you on your way to pastures new.
Words: Amelia Maher
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