Tobias Jesso Jr., a Canadian bass player turned singer-songwriter, released his first his first solo full-length album during the spring of 2015, just months before his 30th birthday. Jesso spent the early parts of his career as a bassist for The Sessions and then later for teen-pop star Melissa Cavatti. But it is on the piano that he wrote his 2015 album, Goon, an instrument that he didn’t even begin to play until he was 27 while working for a moving company in Vancouver.
There is nothing Goonish about this album, either. It’s a refreshing break from the recent flood of over-produced and unnecessarily complicated piano-based songwriting on the market today. Jesso Jr. manages to create a collection of beautiful songs, generally using nothing more than simple, well-composed piano work along with his own brand of vintage sounding vocals.
Man with Piano
Jesso has mainly drawn comparisons to singer-songwriters of the ‘60s and ‘70s, specifically Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson. But at times he manages to channel aspects of Lennon’s "Working Class Hero" and McCartney’s solo work, too.
Tobias Jesso Jr. says Goon is an album about “Hollywood, failure, and breakup.” "Hollywood," the sixth track of the album’s 12, captures all three. It speaks to an experience true to Jesso’s career. Although a song about being chewed up and spit out by Hollywood may sound cliché by 2015, Jesso saves the song from any of the resulting negatives by making himself the subject, rather than the city itself.
He, like so many others, went to Hollywood with big dreams of fame and fortune. And, like so many others, he was bothered by the artificiality of Hollywood and wasn’t sure if he could fake happiness and confidence in the face of rejection. He left Hollywood because he was afraid his struggle to find success in LA would change who he is, even if he managed to fulfill his dreams. Now, after releasing his debut album, no one can question if he made the right decision.