EVER since the inception of rock ‘n’ roll in its truest form, contemporary music has had a tumultous relationship with the piano. Whilst it has never been the instrument du jour in a guitar led environment,  the past 30 years has seen several artists transcend the negative connotations and inherent stuffiness that’s associated with those who tickle the ivories.

One modern artist who looks capable of becoming this generation’s defining pianist is Tobias Jesso Jr, a Canadian born musician who only turned his hand to the instrument on account of his guitars being in storage. Wholeheartedly admitting that he’s far from a virtuouso, the rudimentary manner in which Jesso Jr both composes and performs his compositions possesses an unmistakable charm which entices the listener and proves that going back to basics can be beneficial in a world of overblown concepts and lavish production.

Kicking off with the beautiful chords of ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’, Jesso Jr exercises his soulful croon to detail his ongoing infatuation with ‘Mary Ann’; remarking that he’d lost her in a dream before a similar situation transpired in real life. Depicting a genuinely harrowing state of hopelessness over a glorious pop melody, he proclaims emphatically that ‘there must be something I can do.’

Managing to land somewhere between the distinctive tone of Tom Petty and John Lennon at his most distressed, ‘How Could You Babe?’ is structured around the protagonist’s inability to accept that his former lover had setlled down with a new partner. As exhibited by the album’s opening two tracks, one of the strengths of Jesso’s stripped back, 70’s pop based ethos is the relatability of the sentiments which he expresses. Whilst they’ll all be completely unique due to exacerbating circumstances and other elements, a great deal of those who listen to the album will correlate the notions of outrage, disgust and longing which are prevalent throughout the track’s with a personal experience; an outstanding feat for an artist who is still embroiled in the formative stages of his career.

Managing to summon up the spirit of classic album’s such as The Stranger and 52nd Street, ‘Without You’ recalls Billy Joel at his most forlorn and distraught. Accented by splashy cymbals and an outpouring of emotion from Jesso Jr, the track’s ‘what have you got to lose?’ refrain is uttered in a restrained fashion and yet the deep seated emotion which no doubt led to it being penned, peers through.

Uplifted by the use of blissful strings and a sense of grandiosity, ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ is a perfect pop song from a bygone era, finding Jesso Jr adopting the kind of sentimentality that is sure to translate into a live favourite.

A notable departure from the album’s overall vibe, ‘The Wait’ features gorgeous acoustic guitar at its forefront whilst the Vancouver native’s vocals sound as restless as the lyrics insinuate. With nods to a completely disparate range of influences scattered throughout, this composition sees Jesso Jr harking back to dearly departed folk artists such as the enigmatic Nick Drake and John Martyn during his Solid Air era.

Hollywood’ reestablishes the piano as the most crucial component of his sound aside from his deeply likable voice. Featuring verses which focus upon the contrast between the egocentric and viscous locale that is America’s entertainment capital and the shy and retiring nature of Jesso Jr. One of the most interesting moments on the album from the standpoint of sonic adventure, the track’s climax features a number of muted horns, creating an unpleasant and disconcerting sound which appears to represent the way in which he interpreted the hustle and bustle of the merciless city.

One of the album’s most saccharine moments, ‘For You’ is a straightforward ode to a positive energy within his day to day life. Bolstered by driven percussion and delicate strings, the influence of collaborator JR White can be seen in plain sight due to the its alignment with his material within the Christopher Owens’ led Girls.

One of the album’s rockier moments; ‘Crocodile Tears’ lifts the sorrowful and downtrodden lyricism of many doo wop tracks before juxtaposing it with a glam rock style stomp. Whilst ‘Bad Words’ sees Jesso Jr emulate the moving organ playing of Billy Preston alongside heart wrenching vocals.

Reintegrating the use of strings alongside a glorious melody ‘Just A Dream’ sees Jesso Jr in remorse filled form, wishing to have back the time that he took for granted with his loved ones.

Featuring restrained use of a choir that harks back to JR White’s former group upon their Father, Son, Holy Ghost record, a whirring synth and use of bongos set ‘Leaving LA’ aside from the rest of the record, before ‘Tell The Truth’ closes proceedings with one of his strongest vocal performances and subdued orchestration.

Goon is one of the most accomplished and original  debut’s that you’ll have the pleasure of hearing this year. An artist with a concise vision and an impeccable ability to coerce the listener into a variety of emotional states, expect this young man to have a long and storied career within the music industry and for people of all creeds and cultures to discover this album and revel in its ingenuity.