Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh You're So Super, Jens

Last month I caught an amazing show by this fine Swedish fellow Jens Lekman and recently found a music video I had to share. I had seen him on my birthday in London the year prior, and, having nearly landed an interview with him for a music magazine, mentioned casually via email that I would be attending his show on my birthday. His first song was "Happy Birthday, Dear Friend Lisa." I'd like to think it was for me though. My favorite lines from this song go a little something like (ahem):

Oh drinking cheap wine, to Bossanova.
You're a supernova in the sky.
And the Jehovas, in their pullovers.
Are no Casanovas, like you and I.

Alas, I never met him. But I felt very blessed to see his San Francisco show, which was probably the best show I've seen all year. It was a non-stop square dance sing-along fest for the audience (well at least the people I was with). And Jens seemed to be in great spirits, much better than when he was in London (it was a small venue in London, and the management was very rude at trying to usher him out. So he angrily charged the audience and sang "Tram Number Seven To Heaven" in the lobby. It was brilliant). The most memorable song for me was a cover of Paul Simon's "Call Me Al". He announced that he loved the song but refused to sing the chorus. It was a very slow, folksy rendition.

I think I love him because his music is so extraordinarily heartfelt, yet his lyrics so obscure that you can't tell if he's going for humor or not. As he wrote in his blog Smalltalk, "I am comically retarded, when I tell you what hurts inside of me you will laugh, and when I tell you a funny story you will cry". But his pop sensibilities are razor-sharp, and his soundscapes lush in an eclectic, experimental 60s kind of way that maintains its modernity. The Morrissey-inspired lounge-y vocals only add to the humor aspects.

Here's a video he made a few months back, doing a cover of Arthur Russell's "A Little Lost." The Kalimba work is top notch.

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