by Alexandra Hall
Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes home become a disconnected old friend. Growing up often means growing away, and leaving one’s hometown is, for many, a pivotal cue of adulthood.
Jesse Moldovsky, known better musically as j solomon, moved away from home over four years ago. But his new track “Home” brings listeners right back to the raw emotions of that initial exodus of youth.
“When I wrote it, it was this transition period where I had been living away from where I grew up with my parents for a year or two,” solomon said. “I was still navigating that type of relationship– like how you interact with your parents and your siblings when you don’t see them every day. As cliche as it sounds, “Home” is about how you can still be there for them and vice versa even when you’re not around.”
The verses and the chorus mimic a call on the phone. While the former illustrates solomon’s musings about his parents and siblings, the latter offers a quick solution to his “what if?” mentality: a call to mom.
“Momma said,” sings solomon. “If you need a pick me up / or a hand me down / just hit my line / and I’ll be around / and you can say anything that you might have to say.”
With a topic like “home,” indie rock artists like solomon risk falling into a pit of cliché. Even if the themes feel routine, solomon’s lyricism feels deeply personal while maintaining an air of levity.
Solomon, 22, hails from rural Pennsylvania— a fact that made returning to his hometown after his song “Greetings From Suburbia” took off on TikTok. Before it was formally released, solomon posted a video singing part of it. He sits criss-cross applesauce outside, acoustic in hand and vocals reminiscent of Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.
Referred to in the caption as a “small town anthem,” solomon calls to light how painfully unoriginal all of our young adult experiences are. Whether it’s the football players to local politicians pipeline or the pretty girls plagued with cigarette addictions, solomon’s observational songwriting nearly errs on creepy. “Greetings From Suburbia” mirrors “Home” in the possession of an almost overwhelming sense of the temporary nature of everything, even where we grow up. An environment that at once felt permanent, fixed in time, becomes a three letter destination code on an airplane boarding pass. What happens when home is no longer where we come from?
The themes solomon explores in his work are nothing short of common, but the threads of sincerity and sweetness that are interwoven into his lyricism create songs that feel surreal and genuine.
His 2022 track “Mona Lisa,” highlights a turn for j solomon’s trajectory into a sound more angsty and indie rock-oriented.
“You can profit off the losses of the unexpecting passersby/ Just looking for something to hold on/ But you know that it would take some money to make more money…,” solomon sings.
The chorus is a cluttering of that last line, cyclical in the endless pursuit of creation’s relationship with profit. The music video, directed by J Wang, showcases this perfectly. It features solomon and his band in an off-white room intercut with clips of New York City rooftop and blurred murals of graffiti. The boys lie on the floor googling pictures of the Mona Lisa or sprawled about, playing their instruments from the floor. It ends with solomon smashing his guitar on a print of the art piece.
Solomon is still grounded, despite leaving his roots for New York City. There’s subgenres upon subgenres in the Big Apple, and finding a niche proves to be challenging. Solomon describes the presence of an “internet scene,” consisting of artists who’ve made some sort of break on social media.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword. You have to be on TikTok nowadays as an artist but you don’t want to be boxed in to be someone who is getting hits all the time but who can’t play live or sell any tickets to a show.”
The “internet scene” holds short-lived promises of success for most artists. With the rise of trending sounds on TikTok, what were once “one hit wonders” are now “one chorus wonders,” a trap artists work to navigate.
Luckily, solomon has escaped that trap for now and is working on building a sustainable career with long-form projects. Even if listeners find him through short-form content platforms, the quality of his art asks them to stick around. In many ways, not reaching a shocking amount of success on TikTok is freeing.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the debut nowadays,” solomon said. “There’s too much emphasis on waiting until you’re like ‘Grammy-level’ to release your debut album. I want to be someone who releases albums, and you have to work up to that threshold.”
With a growing fanbase across all different platforms and his debut EP, Sleeping in the Garden, coming out on February 24, Solomon’s future rings with promise. His work is a call for exploration: of the shifting past of former home terrains, of the present’s sticky relationships with creativity, and of the what the faceless future holds.
Until next time,
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