When: 7.30pm on Monday 26 November 2012
Where: The Wardrobe, 6 St Peter’s Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS9 8AH
When: 7pm on Tuesday 27 November 2012
Where: The Thekla, 40 The Grove, East Mud Dock, Bristol BS1 4RB
We’re delighted to be promoting two shows for Jens Lekman, the reason we started Hey! Manchester, in Leeds and Bristol this November.
Jens Lekman will release a new album, I Know What Love Isn’t, on 3 September on Secretly Canadian. The album is his first full length in five years, following the critically acclaimed Night Falls Over Kortedala. The opening track sets the stage for what’s to come: a simple melody picked out on an echoey upright piano, like a disused one you might find in a schoolroom or church. The tune, Every Little Hair Knows Your Name, is bittersweet but gentle, with a sustain that fades into the acoustic guitar and twinkling flourish of chimes on Erica America, the album’s first single.
From there the album expands, using an economical palette of sounds. I Know What Love Isn’t has strings but not a string section, an upright piano, not grand, a single saxophone, gracenotes from a flute, a lot of tambourine. Combined in exact proportions with Lekman’s melancholy abstract lyrics, the songs evoke the Brill Building sound, something Steve Rosen (writing for Crawdaddy) calls ‘an ambitious creative approach. Their sound was adventurous and full of surprisingly subtle coloration. There wasn’t a fear that delicacy could be interpreted as a loss of edge. Delicacy was part of the edge.’
This combination of soft-as-sharp can be found throughout I Know What Love Isn’t. A sprightly piano line on Become Someone Else’s backs the sentiment of not becoming ‘like the sinking rock tied to the leg of a person’. I Want A Pair Of Cowboy Boots pairs a single acoustic guitar and piano with the warmest smoothest vocal interplay and a cutting request for boots that walk ‘anywhere but back to you’. Images of everyday life follow a bouncy pop tune on The World Moves On; lying on the floor with a bag of frozen peas; feeding possums in the park; but also serve to illustrate how these ordinary things continue to happen in the face of heartbreak. ‘The world just shrugs it’s shoulders and keeps going, it just moves on in all it’s sadness and glory.’ The title track brings us the story of a sham marriage that feels realer for its honesty, ‘a relationship that doesn’t lie about its intentions and shit’.
Lekman is a storyteller of the highest calibre, letting his delicate vignettes unfold to show the wonder that lies in the mundane. That’s what I Know What Love Isn’t… is. A collection of songs that grew to a story that had to be told. A story that is not new, but essentially human. The story of the grey areas of love that you have to excavate and explore, using the method of exclusion, to find out what love is.
LEEDS: Support comes from Dancing Years. Dancing Years (formerly Joseph & David) comprise David Henshaw and Joseph Lawrenson, who have been writing music together for two years now, dividing their time between Cardiff and their Leeds hometown. When performing live, they are joined by a host of friends who provide additional piano, guitar, vocals, accordion, drums and violin to reconstruct the full, powerful sounds of their records. Their live performances have seen the band gather an increasing amount of plaudits as a result of a full UK tour in support of Benjamin Francis Leftwich as well as gigs supporting the likes of James Vincent McMorrow, Dry The River and Peggy Sue. Fans of Bon Iver will admire David’s stunning vocals as he drifts from sweet, delicate hushed whisperings to roaring intensity, while fans of Beirut and Devandra Banhart are likely to be enticed by the rich, varied depth of the instrumentation throughout.
BRISTOL: Support comes from Joyce the Librarian. Fronted by singer-songwriter Martin Callingham, their sound is ‘understated but undeniably beautiful – simple guitars and flashes of cello and trumpet back softly-spoken lyrics’. Recently signed to Folkwit Records, their first LP, They May Put Land Between Us, was released on 5 November 2012.