Vancouver-born songwriter Tobias Jesso, Jr. settled into his own style by singing his own material for his '70s-style singer/songwriter debut, but not before taking a bit of a detour. While in Vancouver in the mid-2000s, he joined the indie rock band the Sessions as bass player, then moved with part…
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Tobias Jesso Jr., is a bit of an anomaly; but you can deduce this on your own: the odd inflections in his voice, his quasi-awkward yet surprisingly confident stage presence and body language, perfectly reflect the title of his album: Goon.
Let's back up here. How does this "Goon" only have a few songs to his name (two of which are demos), and get on network television (above), have the best indie producers in the game for his album (Ariel Rechtshaid, Patrick Carney, Chet "JR" White), and get to play a set on Pitchfork Paris? (amongst other recent accomplishments) This question is often asked with a buzz-artist like Tobias. (Which he is. It's not a bad thing.) The simple, and most obvious answer, is talent. Tobias simply has incredible talent and that is reflected in his music. I believe what sets him apart from all the other piano-ballad indie sad-boy singers is his "goon" personae and outsider quality to his music. He is, often equated to Daniel Johnston, the king of outsider music, with reason. Tobias is an outsider in an industry filled with indie-folk-pop sentimental casanovas. Yet, this human quality he brings and this confidence in his own nuances is what allows listeners connect with his music. It's not often where you can listen to such an intimate recording of someone and feel it from such an honest place. Although Jesso Jr.'s music does often sound very similar, the moments of beauty that are created, when his stripped-down instrumentation formula works, are definitely worth the listen. Tobias Jesso Jr. deserves the attention he is sure to receive with the release of Goon, but more importantly, we deserve his honest, human, and extremely talented character in the industry of today.
The first time I heard his voice was in a youtube demo of his song "just a dream", and I was instantly intrigued; the instrumentation of the song, just a piano and voice (along with the cover, depicting a young Tobias playing), gives a feeling of loneliness, yet he counters this loneliness with very strong-put vocals in a very somber setting. It's almost as if this demo is an exemplification of Tobias' whole project; lonely piano songs, with unique, bold vocals. Despite his loneliness he is confident to be the "goon" he is advertising himself as with his first album. All of this was further proven last night with his network television debut on Fallon featuring the Roots.