Leif Vollebeck “Twin Solitude” (Secret City Records ,2017)

“Twin Solitude” is a perfect example of musical growth. The journey undergone and the music released by Leif Vollebeck doffs the cap to the idea of art imitating life expounded by Oscar Wilde. After all, this collection of melancholy Americana is not without its imperfections, but therein lies much of its beauty. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, Vollebeck felt something was missing from his musical make up, so he made what seemed the obvious decision to travel to Iceland, the land of his forefathers and discover his roots.

Two albums later and here we are, this latest reincarnation coming after a crisis of confidence led him to believe that the highlights of his live shows were the covers. Whether that was something he was smoking, a calculated judgement of audience reaction or just instinct is besides the point. The result is the latest stage in the Vollebeck development and it represents a maturity of poetic licence so apparently spontaneous as to be quite startling.

The songs seem to develop their own conciousness and mould themselves around Vollebekk’s direction, a kind of instinctive editorial process. It seems effortless which, whether the case or not, provides the kind of natural flow synonamous with one of the inspirations behind this record, Nick Drake.

Opener Vancouver Time sets the tone with its stripped back arrangements. Nothing too fancy here, just the  laying of foundations with a sprinkling of delightful and thoughtful instrumental arrangements . Elegy came to Leif as he rode his motorbike around Montreal, like a present day Dickens wandering the streets of London in the middle of the night for ideas, “My feet are so tired but baby my spirit ain’t broken”. Each track melts the listener and breaks down a little more resistance.

In many ways it’s an album born of the road and the endless hours travelling between towns, an exhausted sigh of a record. It’s no surprise to discover it was self-produced; material this personal breaks through the individual experiences expressed and becomes simply an extension of the soul.

Leif himself summed up Twin Solitude best when he said “By the time the last notes die away, all that’s left should be you, and I’ll be somewhere else”.


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