“How Could You Babe?” evokes heartbreak, and the sweet simplicity of longing

Tobias Jesso Jr. delights with a Beatles-influenced ballad to lost love

Though recent events had me tempted to go heavy and politically incisive with this post, the delightfully self-assured editing and execution of this video for the song “How Could You Babe,” from Tobias Jesso Jr.’s as-of-yet unreleased debut album “Goon”, eventually won me over. I’ve been prone to more than my share of over-sentimentality in my time, and it’s nice to find music that matches my daily state of perpetual heartbreak and doomed romanticism. Jesso Jr. is a mop-haired, shaggy-headed 29-year-old Canadian heartthrob, whose life had reached bottom when he was blindsided by a Cadillac while riding his bicycle through Los Angeles, where he was struggling to make it as a musician. He moved home to his native Vancouver, B.C., and with his music equipment still in storage in L. A., sat down to write music solely for the piano, and to write it purely for himself.

The video features a plaintive Jesso Jr. walking throughout Los Angeles, playing piano on-stage, and posted like Beethoven from the famed Charles Schulz cartoon “Peanuts” behind a tiny piano, first inside a half-pipe of a local skate park, and later, at the beach (of all places). This song is like candy for the lovelorn, and the arrangement highlights a syrupy sweet melody and the gentle croon of Jesso Jr.’s voice, all while backed by a fully-orchestrated production that calls to mind the Beatles’ last performances for the album “Let it Be.” I find Jesso Jr. himself to be an extremely talented vocalist, though one whose career has taken some time to get off the ground (giving hope to many of the rest of us starving artists out here that ours eventually will.) Pitchfork did a feature on him as a rising artist in October 2014, detailing some of the twists and turns of his musical career so far. But with this album’s release, he appears to have come into his own.

The video and song share the simplicity and effectiveness of a well-produced classic rock ballad. As for the lyrics, we’re not talking Shakespeare here… if anything we’re talking more along the lines of a John Hughes. Jesso Jr. was scorned by a lost love, so he wails his heartbreak from start to finish of this song as skillfully as you could ask for. And honestly, sometimes a good simple love song is all I could really ask for from my music. It feels like there’s enough political strife and suffering to go around already, and now and then it’s healthy to pause in our outrage, take a walk outside, and maybe take a moment to cry just a little. So give this video a listen, and if you like it, watch out for the new album “Goon,” which will hit shelves on March 17 on the True Panther Label. Oh yeah, and keep jamming out!

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