There’s a paragraph in an exclaim! magazine article about Leif Vollebekk’s newest album Twin Solitude (2017), that offers insight into this fascinating singer-songwriter: “Vollebekk’s new songs developed naturally…: Vancouver Time came all at once, every line perfectly intact, as he played guitar in his apartment in Montreal; Elegy started to form when he was on a bike ride and then, a few months later, its missing drum beat emerged while he was swimming.”
Songs “came” to him, they revealed themselves it appears – sometimes all at once and fully realized, sometimes bit by bit, like they are an elemental part of him yet expose themselves in their own time and ways. Listening to Vollebekk’s sparse yet intensely melodic and evocative songs, you begin to understand that the process of crafting, making, and performing music is an all-consuming, whole body experience for him. And so it becomes for his listeners.
Born in Ottawa in 1985, Leif taught himself music using instruments inherited from his grandfather: harmonica, guitar, piano, an old fiddle. He began with songs off the radio, but originals started coming too. He headed to Iceland in search of his Nordic roots, and this musical and cultural immersion allowed him to fine-tune his sound: an ethereal, spare folk music, somewhere between Sigur Rós and Bob Dylan.
Vollebekk’s music, though, feels as much about emotion and immersion as anything easily traceable to an influence – or categorized. As one review said of Twin Solitude, “Within the first bars of the opening track, the precious, transcendent connection between music and human emotion is ignited… The beautiful melancholy of Vollebekk’s piano and the raw poetic rhythm of his voice is soul-stirring.”