CULTURE

Almost a star at home, Swede spreading his word

Now beginning to make some impact beyond his native Sweden, where he is close to reaching pop-star status, 24-year-old crooner Jens Lekman will perform his first-ever Greek show in Athens this Saturday. Up until two years ago, Lekman was an unknown entity beyond the Swedish circuit, even among fans well informed about developments on the independent pop-rock scene. Lekman has just completed a brief US tour that prompted rave reviews from influential college press. One publication hailed Lekman as a Swedish sensation poised for American stardom. In the little time that has elapsed since his emergence, though, Lekman has distinguished himself among the countless youngsters recording music in their bedrooms these days. His strengths have undoubtedly been a fine vocal delivery and songwriting diversity that has prompted comparisons to the sophistication of Phil Spector’s best productions and the emotional sincerity of the Smiths. To date, Lekman has released three intriguing EPs and a full-length album. His record company, Secretly Canadian, home to several fine fringe acts – including the Tren Brothers, a splinter-project linked to the instrumental trio Dirty Three – is due to release all the tracks that had appeared on the early EPs on one CD titled «Oh You’re So Silent Jens» within the next few days. The Swedish market has already responded to Lekman’s work. An EP titled «Maple Leaves» reached No. 11 on the country’s singles charts, on which the release floated for an impressive 22 weeks. Last summer, Lekman improved on this with a song called «You Are The Light,» which went all the way up to No. 2 on the Swedish charts. He has since toured the world by virtue of being able to single-handedly turn a jazz festival into a party and professing to know «every stupid love song that’s ever touched your heart.» Saturday’s show in Athens, then, could be interesting for more than just the above. Lekman, it seems, enjoys performing at intimate venues. The Greek capital’s Small Music Theater should serve him well. Just days ago, at a small-scale show in the US, Lekman, after finishing his set, told the audience that he does not do encores but would be happy to perform songs, face-to-face, to anyone with a request. The Swedish musician was soon giving a private performance to the handful of fans that stayed on. Local indie-pop band the Occasional Flickers will open the performance. Saturday, 10 p.m., Small Music Theater (33 Veikou, Koukaki, tel 210.924.5644). Entrance: 15 euros.