Great Lake Swimmers: Tiny Desk Concert Singer Tony Dekker sheds his backing band, Great Lake Swimmers, long enough to perform three of his songs at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.

Great Lake Swimmers: Tiny Desk Concert

Audio Only: Great Lake Swimmers' Tiny Desk Concert

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Set List

  • "Everything Is Moving So Fast"
  • "Pulling on a Line"
  • "Various Stages"

When Tom Jones showed up for his Tiny Desk Concert a few months back, Bob Boilen's shabby workspace quickly cut the legend's larger-than-life persona down to size. Here was a huge-voiced, lionized pop star and icon, and he seemed exposed and more than a little nervous. (Of course, Jones is also one of popular music's all-time great pros, so he banged out an unforgettable set like a champ.)

Few paragraphs about Tom Jones transition seamlessly into paragraphs about Great Lake Swimmers singer Tony Dekker, but I was struck by how shy both men seemed when presented with a tiny spotlight and a office full of happy strangers. Showing up alone — no band, no road manager — Dekker was enormously kind, but his timidity was apparent whenever he wasn't softly singing one of his band's gorgeous folk-pop songs.

Fortunately, unlike Jones, Dekker plays music that's ideally suited to a bit of introversion. Throughout a career that spans four albums — in this three-song set, "Everything Is Moving So Fast" and "Pulling on a Line" were both drawn from Great Lake Swimmers' latest, Lost Channels — Dekker has developed a sterling track record for gentle ruminations on nature, beauty, conflict and the human body.

Nowhere does Dekker's music hit harder than on my favorite Great Lake Swimmers song, "Various Stages" (from 2005's Bodies & Minds), which closes this three-song set. Dekker trots out a harmonica for the song, which chronicles a relationship marked by both "various stages of undress" and "various states of madness." Cutting a complex relationship's worth of emotions and struggles down to a few minutes, "Various Stages" conveys an intense level of intimacy — appropriate to his surroundings here.