The Fool by Young Jesus album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions


The Fool

Young Jesus

“You think every day’s the same / But it’s new, and it’s brief, and it takes your breath away,” John Rossiter, also known as Young Jesus, sings on his new album of gritty indie folk songs, called simply The Fool. It’s a fitting thing for a committed gardener like himself to say, one who sees the rainy days and the sunny days with equal gratitude and gravity, the flowers and vegetables in bloom and wilting in turn, the sun “like a balloon / sent from Hell / straight to the moon.”

His latest offering, after taking a big break following a couple year project done solely on his computer, was initiated by an artist friend, Shahzad Ismaily, and it is an album that digs deep into the grief and gratitude you feel when tilling the inner soil of your heart. His deep voice and clever arrangements remind me of Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg, one of my favorite indie bands over the last couple of decades, but gripped me even more so, because of his intelligent and hearty grappling with God and grace and the light of youth and the gravity of age, fit for his provacative band name.

It’s a longer offering than most, something that will work in your favor if, like me, you want to see into all of the corners of this artist’s searching mind. “And so many artists / have a trust to their name.” He reminds me of my own youth, on songs like “Rich”: “I grew up rich / and my daddy did too / But we’re never happy / in fact if you knew.” On that song, and on many of the songs, Rossiter looks into the sordid past of different characters, the innocence lost, and sings on one song with characteristic honesty, “Am I the only one who asks, / ‘Can I reconcile my past?’”

He attempts to do that reconciliation through his piercing and poetic songwriting, with howls and spoken words, and a subtle sense for the perfect chord and melody to fit his unique tenor of a voice and his homegrown indie arrangements. It’s a beautiful record, and as happens sometimes when I listen to new music, restores my faith in humanity, and renews my belief that there will always be good music coming from some corner of the world, as long as the human species survives.

His last song, “God’s Plan,” perhaps a tongue-in-cheek play on Drake’s popular song, is a sort of mission statement, looking with an inquisitive eye towards heaven. “So we walked up / to Saint Peter to say / ‘Is there a god in Heaven?’ / ‘No, God’s down there in the every day.” “If you give up looking / God’s beneath that thing you can’t explain.” Rossiter dregs up his past as if he’s talking to a therapist, turns a good phrase as if he’s a famous poet, and offers both hope and relatability, to help his listeners dig into their own conflicted histories, and find forgiveness for the shame, light for the darkness, and beauty for ashes, with a bit of humor, a good helping of heaviness, and a whole lot of pathos.

Order The Fool by Young Jesus HERE


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