On Perfect Accident, he was just warming up.
With his new Wax Records sophomore album Two, Jesse Labelle is taking control.
Packed and loaded with such irresistibly captivating and emotionally resonant songs as “One Last Night,” “No Moment We Stop” and the first single, “Heartbreak Coverup,” the romantically sensitive pop singer and songwriter has entered an even deeper level of intensity with his new 11-song set, analyzing the whole aspect of amorous commitment.
Jesse, a radio, MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic favourite who conquered the airwaves in 2009 with the Top 5 hits “Easier” and “Last Christmas,” says Two is very much a concept album.
“There’s very much a vibe I’m trying to capture from start to finish here,” says Jesse, who thrilled audiences from coast-to-coast on MuchMusic’s memorable Soda Pop tour with Alyssa Reid and Emily Osment a few summers back and also performed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
A songwriter since the age of 17, the Toronto-born-and-based Aquarian feels that the new album reflects his growth and maturity as a songwriter and storyteller.
“It’s the whole idea of two hearts as one,” explains Jesse, adding that the narrative best described by a lyric from “Won’t Let You Down,” the opening track on the new Two:
“There’s two to every story
Two sides of a heart
One that fears the end
And one that fears the start.”
He’s the first one to admit that Two is a more mature outlook on romantic pairing, due to a lot of personal growth and reflection in his own relationship experiences in recent years.
“Having two views – one person looking at it one way, and one looking at it another way – I’ve learned that the general sense of ‘love’ is achieved over a longer time by working on it and towards a similar goal,” he concludes.
Predominantly produced by Thomas “Tawgs” Salter (Lights, Midway State, Fefe Dobson) with three tracks helmed by Jason Lehning (Mat Kearney) and another by Jeff “Diesel” Dalziel (Alyssa Reid’s “Alone Again”), Two sonically analyzes the evolution of romance right from the first note of “Won’t Let You Down.”
Nowhere is that more evident than on the album’s first single, “Heartbreak Coverup,” co-written by Luke McMaster, Rob James and Tawgs Salter and featuring a guest cameo by Alyssa Reid, as a page ripped from the reality of Jesse’s personal life.
“’Heartbreak Coverup’ is my real life break up song,” Jesse admits. “It’s a look at a break up from a darker and arguably more realistic and selfish side of things. We all try to get over someone, and sometimes we throw ourselves under the bus as we try to cancel out the pain we’re feeling at the time.
“That includes drunken nights, pleading phone calls and the lonely parties for one, that we throw ourselves to try and forget what we lost…especially when we know we made a mistake.”
But not all the songs deal with self-flagellation. The songs on Two run the gamut from the happiness of discovery and the joy of involvement to the sadness of loneliness, but there’s also a humorous streak that emphasizes Mr. Labelle’s ability to deliver clever lyrical twists.
“’One Last Night’ is one of the more fun songs on the album,” Jesse declares.
“It’s all about the proposed ‘End Of Days’ that is supposed to occur on December 21, 2012, and everyone has their own theories, of course, about the Mayan calendar and the supposed end of the world.
“This song is a tongue-in-cheek look at that: about having one more night before the sky falls in to indulge in everything you wanted to do: one last attempt to end the world on a high note.”
Ever the eternal optimist, Jesse also includes plenty of room for interpretation and application with “No Moment We Stop.”
“It’s an upbeat and positive number about not being knocked down and shattered by failure, but looking at it as a way to rise above,” he explains. “Every day that you breathe is an ability for you to have a fresh start, and moving forward is the most valuable tool we possess in time of need.
“We should always look ahead – not backwards. Hope above hard luck; love above prejudice.”
With other exquisite samples of Jesse’s growth in songwriting that include “Something Amazing,” “There She Goes” and “Straight Line” — all uniquely imprinted by his gift for masterful melodies and poetic prowess – the next logical step is to bring Two to the stage.
After an early summer UK tour with Alyssa Reid, the charismatic Jesse – who counts Keane, Crowded House, Duran Duran and pop songwriting legend Max Martin as major influences, and has also honed his concert chops touring with headliners Faber Drive, These Kids Wear Crowns and Fefe Dobson — will be hitting various Canadian venues over the summer and lining up for a national tour in the fall.
And he’ll be revealing yet another one of his many skill sets.
“I’ve been known for my guitar, but Two is very much a piano-based album, so I’ll be playing both.”
As a step up in artistic maturity, Two will allow men and women to know the real Jesse Labelle intimately.
“I’m really proud of the music I’ve made for this record because it’s so different than the last one. The last one was very much whom I thought I wanted to be, looking at my idols at the time and thinking, ‘I want to make my version of their record.’
“With this album, I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and discovered something that’s a lot closer to who I am.
“This the album that helps me discover what makes me, ‘me.’”