|That's me facing away from the camera, talking to my friend's ex-boyfriend.|
Still, when I saw him at New York City's Webster Hall in April 2008, and then headed back to my Brooklyn neighborhood for the nearby house show posted above, I remember already wondering how he would ever top Kortedala. It was more than an album for me; it captured a moment, a moment that might've been as naive and idealistic as the presidential campaign themes that fall can seem after four years of polarized gridlock. You can always make another album, but moments are out of our hands.
I tried to mention this to Jens, but it didn't really come out in the form of a question, and I'm not sure what I said made sense. Toward the end of our interview, though, I was able to bring up the small but significant role he played in my current whereabouts: As my wife was suggesting we move from Brooklyn to downtown Des Moines, she used local venue Vaudeville Mews' recent and upcoming shows as a lure, and I was thrilled to see had played here.
"I remember that show in Des Moines," Jens told me, in a portion of the interview it didn't make sense to file for eMusic. "It was really fun. Like, there was a big crowd, and everyone was really excited. It seemed like a really cool town, actually." After I talked a bit about how nice it is to see performers away from situations where they know their every move might be dissected by the blogs and media, he said in agreement, "Those shows are just so much more fun, to be honest."
So there you have it. Lekman seemingly remembers playing Des Moines -- his description of the show definitely matches what I heard about it, though maybe every stop in his tour was that way. And while I'm not sure his current album of low-key heartbreak will be embraced in the same way Kortedala was five years ago, to me it's an even better album, of a piece with recent records by Tracey Thorn and Jonathan Richman. Lekman and I are in different places now, different moments, but his music still has a power over me I can't quite explain. I'm looking forward to sticking with it for another four or five years.
see also: "I was a seapunk when I was 12"