WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because this troubadourish singer has captured our hearts, and we like his Dylan-esque sound.
By Anne Miller
Canadian Leif Vollebekk has a thick mustache and tousled hair and looks like he’s trying to appear far more serious than his still-babyish face can handle.
But his music harkens back to an age when acoustic and rock weren’t mutually exclusive.
The 28-year-old Icelandic-speaking Montrealer (originally from Ottawa) aims to find a happy spot between Bob Dylan and Sigur Rós, as he has said — two musical stylings, one a folkie troubadour and the other ethereal European post-rock, that aren’t generally considered bridgeable.
His songs are fused with thoughtful contemplation — a 20-something navigating life on the road, not with bombast and rebellion, but with poetry and a guitar.
The French edition of Rolling Stone gave his current disc, North Americana, released earlier this year, 3.5 stars out of 5.
North Americana is not his first album (it’s his second), but it’s the one gaining traction on both sides of the pond. He spent two years in four studios in three cities (Montreal, New York City and La Frette-sur-Seine, France) to craft the release. He recorded live to tape — no blending tracks, certainly no Auto-Tune — to produce a throwback of a record whose stated goal is to bring 1970s songwriting back to the present.
Vollebekk’s songs are fused with thoughtful contemplation — a 20-something navigating life on the road, not with bombast and rebellion, but with poetry and a guitar. The comparisons to early Ryan Adams aren’t off the mark. These ruminations don’t shy away from pregnant pauses, welcoming the impact of a silent rest between notes.
“When the Subway Comes Above the Ground” channels a little Jeff Buckley while meditating on different kinds of connections in an art-house video that marks his biggest release off the last album. Sit back, purge yourself of distractions and listen.