Album Review: The Ones That Matter by Jesse Ruben

Over the course of just two years, Jesse Ruben has released two full-length albums, played countless shows, and through touring the country, has gained an impressive amount of followers. The 24-year-old graduate from Berklee College of Music enjoyed a great deal of success with his self-released debut album, Aiming for Honesty, with songs featured on the CW’s One Tree Hill, as well as other television promos. His sophomore effort, sentimentally titled The Ones That Matter has been the recipient of much acclaim, shooting Ruben onto “must-listen” lists and into “artist to watch” status.

The Ones That Matter contains 14 tracks, each of which recall a certain situation or person who has helped Ruben get to his current point in life. Ruben has a way with words that allow the listener to become a part of the music, taking in the lyrics and relating them to their lives. The album also exhibits Jesse Ruben’s ability to combine several aspects of music into a record that seamlessly flows together.

The album opens with “Unbreakable,” a song about learning to accept the uncertainties in life. This is presented in the chorus, “…how can something so simple become so hard, and why do we keep believing that we should be where we are, how can a problem so little become so large, we started off unbreakable and then it all fell apart.” Halfway through the album is “Safe,” a track which fits Ruben’s life as a traveling musician to a T. It expresses the human desire to find a place where one can feel safe no matter what, a sentiment to which most people can relate.

Ruben’s emotions regarding “the ones that matter” in his life are remarkably strong in “Can’t Make It Alone,” a melody in which listeners can actually feel the elements of frustration, gratitude, hope, and loss that we all encounter in relationships. The Ones That Matter comes to a close with the jazz-inspired “Too Tired.” In this closing tune, Ruben discusses using music as an escape and an outlet instead of taking the easy way out of a situation.

Jesse Ruben writes and performs with the humility and wisdom of a seasoned veteran, while creating art that appeals to listeners of all ages and backgrounds. Anyone interested in hearing more of Jesse Ruben’s music is in luck, as he will perform this Friday, September 10 at 9pm, as part of SAC’s Coffeehouse event at the Student Union.