Life Through a Jens
You guys! Gmail is the best e-mail server ever.
Want to know why? Because each Gmail account has so much storage space that you can easily send Mp3s to your friends. And that has allowed me to form a special club with my fabulous friend Rachel.
Every Monday, we send a song that we don't think the other has heard. It's like getting a present every week.
So far, the hot hits from Rachel have included a creepy, brilliant song called "No Children"-- from an early album by The Mountain Goats--
and a kicky little pop song called "Knee High" from the group French Kicks.
Songs I've sent to Rachel include an old school track from Suzanne Vega (can't imagine why she was on my mind recently, can you?) and an alt-country number called "Like Her" from The Volebeats. And it's weird about The Volebeats, because I've had their album for almost two years, but I've never made it past the first six songs. I mean, I like those first six, but somehow I just get stuck there. Does that ever happen to you with an album? I remember how long it took me to discover that there were songs other than "Straight Up" and "Forever Your Girl" on my Paula Abdul tape. Imagine my surprise when I finally learned that "Cold Hearted" and "Opposites Attract" and "The Way that You Love Me" had been waiting there all along!
But Paula Abdul, in this one narrow instance, is beside the point. Without a doubt, the best thing about my song club with Rachel is the fact that it introduced me to Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman. You guys, this man is amazing. The song Rachel sent me is a smoky, beautiful mid-tempo rocker called "Black Cab," about being drunk and embarassing yourself at a party and trying to get a damn ride home.
Lekman's voice is so effortless lovely. It has a rich lower register that can slide easily to creamy high notes, and every now and then it trembles with a sadness that makes everything he's singing sound like gut-punching honesty.
But it doesn't stop there! Want a rocking, horns-and-handclaps rhythm to accompany a song about a guy who gets sent to prison and then uses his one phone call to dedicate a song to his lover on the radio? Then go listen to "You Are the Light."
Okay, really, the song is about absolute love tinged with cynicism, but it starts with that prison phone call image, which is awesome. It reminds of an updated Smiths track, with its swooping chorus and female backing vocalists.
In the course of writing this post, I've downloaded Lekman's 2005 album "Oh You're So Silent, Jens." What a great album title! If you have iTunes, listen to the sample of "Maple Leaves." Is that a drum loop? Am I dancing? Can this guy do everything, while sounding more and more like Morrissey every second?
Apparently he can!
(Plus, he's cute. Never hurts.)