Swedish (of course!) singer/songwriter Lykke Li released her third album I Never Learn earlier this spring. As a fan, I was immediately drawn to the concept which she described as “power ballads for the broken.”

Lykke Li

When I first heard she was coming to my neighborhood on tour I was interested in how this would play out, as most of the content was, indeed, slow burners with themes of heartbreak and rejection. While I have a huge soft spot for melancholy music, I was anxious to see what the crowd would be like and how she would handle the setlist at the sold out show.

Silly of me to ever doubt a Swede. What I found at the theatre that warm, late summer night was an ideal arrangement of new material interjected with her past hits with a little more oomph. After an energetic set from opener and good friend Mapei, Lykke Li broke us in gently with the acoustic title track of her latest album. She smoothly transitioned to the lite do woppy sound of “Sadness is a Blessing,” baring her soul further with each chorus sung

Lykke Li

Nothing hit me harder than lead single “No Rest for the Wicked,” which had a bit more of an anthemic feel live compared to the more subdued album version. “There’s no hope for the weary, if you let them win without a fight” Li passionately delivered with her fragile yet powerful voice.

Li took a break from love loss to call out all the Jerome’s in the theatre with a cut by the same name before taking it back to her debut album with the excellent midtempo thumper “Dance Dance Dance” and debut single “Little Bit.”

“Gun Shot” meandered in shortly after, featuring one of the only uptempo cuts from the new release followed by fan favorite “I Follow Rivers.” Lykke Li’s unique vocals stirred up another sensitive and vulnerable performance with “Never Gonna Love Again.” Li the chose the explosive “Get Some” to rile us up before sending us home, but not before returning for a short encore including a Bruce Springsteen cover, “I’m on Fire.”

All in all, Lykke Li delivered quite a lively set considering the pace of her discography. Add a fog machine and dramatic lighting to the beautiful North Park Theatre and it’s a recipe for a wonderful concert from an underrated but deserving artist. Although with talent like hers, I would be just as satisfied watching her sing accompanied by a piano in a white washed room.

You can hear Lykke Li in a variety of Mood’s Core programs including College Rock, Euro Hits and Stylus. Pick up your copy of I Never Learn available now via Atlantic Records.

– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design