Lukas Graham is one of those artists.
Son of an Irish father and Danish mother, Graham was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 18, 1988, where he grew up in the town of Christiania.
His father died at the age of 61, leaving an indelible mark on the young Graham. An experience that has left its fingerprints throughout Graham’s music.
With a raw honesty rarely seen in musicians nowadays, Graham’s songs broach such topics as loss, death, pain, and aging, all with a reflective component that makes you pause and take stock of your own life.
Graham’s unique pop-soul hybrid sound (combined with the occasional perfect piano accompaniment) buttressed against his melancholy far-beyond-his-age lyrics, has made me an instant fan.
The song Mama Said about growing up in poverty, also reminds us to keep family and friends close, while What Happened to Perfect can easily be the song countless couples cling to while desperately trying to salvage a fading relationship.
You’re not There is an anthem for sons who regret their dad’s passing before being able to show their dads what kind of a man they’ve become.
“As I struggle to remember how you used to look and sound, at times I still think I can spot you in the crowd. Every step I take, you used to lead the way, now I’m terrified to face it on my own. You’re not there to celebrate the man that you made, you’re not there to share in my success and mistakes. Is it fair? You’ll never know the person I’ll be, you’re not there with me.”
Even more counter-culture than soberly reflecting on the death of a parent, is the unaplogeticly high value Graham places on family. (Try finding that anywhere else in the barren landscape of today’s music . . . including the Christian market.)
One of my favorite songs on Graham’s self-titled album is entitled, Happy Home.
“I grew up with a lot of love in a happy home. My daddy used to play me vinyl but now daddy’s gone. I used to practice with my mommy on the piano; I still get nervous every time I know she’s at a show. Now my family comes first before everyone. I had the perfect dad, I wanna be the perfect son. Though I really feel sometimes I am on my own, I know I got a lot of love and a happy home.”
With the exception of songs like Strip No More (a song about “a stripper who stopped stripping”) and Drunk in the Morning (a song about, well, being drunk in the morning), all of Graham’s songs have the thread of family, friendship, and loss running through them. Which, for me, is what I love about this album.
Lukas Graham is clearly not your typical songwriter. In a world of Gagas, Mileys, and Beibers, it is truly refreshing to have discovered this young musician.
Even if you don’t care for his particular style of music, you can’t argue that his subject matter is an oasis in a landscape of noise that makes up most of today’s music.
If you’ve never listened to Lukas Graham, I leave you with his song, 7 Years.
“Soon I’ll be 60 years old, my daddy got 61. Remember life and then your life becomes a better one. I made a man so happy when I wrote a letter once. I hope my children come and visit once or twice a month.”