Tobias Jesso Jr: Goon | Album Review

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Artist: Tobias Jesso Jr
Genre: Rock
Label: True Panther

We’re suckers for sad songs because they can say so much about the human condition. Heartache, heartbreak, melancholy, lovesickness, unrequited desire, disappointment, frustration: listeners always want to hear about such emotions from others, just to see if they can relate to another take on life’s rawer moments.

Going by his debut album, Tobias Jesso Jr knows all about the sad song gene. The lanky Vancouver newcomer spent a good few years trying to get a foothold in the music business, playing with no-hoper rock bands and writing songs for pop star never-gonna-bes. After a painful relationship break-up, an equally painful bike accident and his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Jesso decided it was time for something else.

That something else meant putting himself in the frame and his heart and soul on the line to let his songs percolate in the world without someone else making a hames of them or taking the glory. As you listen to Goon, you wonder what the heck Jesso was doing keeping this particular talent under wraps for so long.

There may be tender loving care in the production department provided by Chet “JR” White, ex of Girls, The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, the New Pornographers’ John Collins and Ariel Rechtshaid, who has worked with acts from Vampire Weekend to Madonna, but Jesso’s the one who’s doing all the real spadework. The style is straight and simple, with Jesso’s voice, deliberately low-key piano playing and superb lyrical prowess providing all the embellishment and fireworks.


Hollywood is a blazing standout, a tale of a dreamer getting singed by the big bright lights, but it's not the only gem on Goon. There's much to hug tight to on How Could You Babe, the lovelorn Just A Dream and the appealing Can't Stop Thinking About You.

An album of soul-baring romance and quiet triumph from a significant new talent who knows all about the power of sad songs.