Tobias Jesso Jr - Goon - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tobias Jesso Jr - Goon

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2015-03-18

There’s nothing like piano-led performance to expose an individual’s vulnerabilities, or weaknesses. Both the medium of the voice, and the instrument itself, are brightly displayed and unbuffered. If things crumble in performance, you only have yourself to wallow in, no-one to share in the ignominy, no collegiate fall-back . You can’t blame the drummer, and you can’t decompensate with fellow band mates over a few beers at the local.

On ‘Hollywood’ Tobias Jesso Jnr narrates his fear and apprehension when trying to get a start as a writer in Hollywood. First he’s trying in Hollywood, next he’s going to ‘fry’ in Hollywood, next he’s going to die in Hollywood, before logically, saying goodbye to Hollywood.  

‘Hollywood’ is a good song with a unexpectedly self-effacing ending. Abruptly, a funereal trombone/bassoon eulogy appears, New Orleans style, suggesting that the young Tobias’s self image is not without irony. Which is a relief because I was starting to think the poor guy was certifiable.

Tobias Jesso Jnr possesses a light, mellifluous, somewhat plaintive voice, without rich timbre but with a fair degree of expression. He is a decent writer. Also, I admire his ability to reach for notes without fear, incongruous as that is against messages of self doubt. The lyrics on Goon can be a bit saccharin, although allowances can be made because he veers from the self conscious towards the soul-bearing, so empathy becomes easier.

A few of the tracks are augmented by string guitar, synth or brass, offering gentle accompaniment to this accomplished pop album, sometimes sounding inspired by Paul McCartney, or John Lennon. The album as a whole has a real consonance about it.

Not as annoying as Ben Folds, but not as cynical or funny as Randy Newman, Tobias Jesso Jnr’s music may appear slight, but there is a charm and melodic flow about it, and the young fellow matches talent with courage.

 

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