Tobias Jesso, Jr. is surely the Internet’s indie wunderkind of the moment. This young Vancouver songsmith has entered the scene very cautiously since he was “discovered” after he sent his demo to Chet ‘JR’ White from the now-defunct San Francisco band Girls. A little anticipation goes a long way in this age of instant gratification, but Jesso’s output over the last year amounts to only two fragile and impressive demos uploaded to his YouTube account. That is until his live session for La Blogothèque‘s ongoing “Take Away Show” series, performed at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, cropped up last week.
Jesso’s sound has been likened to any number of piano man singer-songwriters and vulnerable indie darlings— Daniel Johnston, Harry Nilsson, Elton John, Cass McCombs, Jackson Browne, Sparklehorse, and the list goes on. Personally, I’m hearing flashes of Ben Folds, Elliot Smith, and John Lennon at their most tender shine through, as far as increasingly loaded comparisons go. Wait, Ben Folds covered Elliot Smith for The AV Club? Okay, maybe this is it. No… not quite. Maybe Jesso’s just internalized Lennon’s Dakota Demos and put his own spin on the sound. One thing’s clear: wherever he’s coming from, we should be glad he made it here and is crafting such quiet, emotive, and lyrically warm tunes. So far, they all feel pretty timeless.
His live session for La Blogothèque features a performance of his first demo, “Just a Dream”, as well as the previously unheard stunner “Without You”. “Why can’t you just love me? / Should I move on, or should I wait? / And how’d you get so high above me…? / I reach higher, every day”, Jesso aches over the heartfelt nostalgia of his piano melody. He’s not reinventing the wheel here, but he commands a real power nonetheless.
Look for Tobias Jesso, Jr. to release his debut LP on True Panther Sounds sometime in the spring of 2015.