For a time, Leif Vollebekk was a drifter, constantly moving from city to city sharing his music. From dive bars to majestic concert halls to some of the biggest festivals in North America, the Montreal singer-songwriter only knew a life confined to asphalt and dodgy hotel rooms. Something changed inside him during this period, and Vollebekk embarked on a process that would lead him to writing his third album, Twin Solitude, which is unquestionably his most outstanding collection to date.
The record has the feel of a journey, sitting next to Vollebekk on one of his intra-continental tours while hearing him reflect on his life experiences and his thoughts of the future. “Vancouver Time,” which opens the album, is a serene, contemplative ballad about a relationship that is soon to expire. It is a lovely introduction to the “new” Vollebekk, whose lyrics are akin to the poetry of Leonard Cohen and the music is more appropriate for an intimate jazz bar than a concert hall. On the gentle “All Night Sedans,” Vollebekk shares multiple stories – or vignettes. They are flashes in time and quick moments that catch our attention as we drive along the highway late at night. And in these instances, Vollebekk crafts the story of each person and thing he sees, but in a way that only he can do – poetically.
“Elegy” is the album’s showstopper and a masterful piece of art. Vollebekk’s soulful, crooning voice envelopes every emotion on this song about the lost of a loved one. Your heart may skip a beat or your knees may buckle as he sings the following lines:
I remember when we was alone in your room
Staring out your window we knew you’d be going soon
And I was so young babe I hoped that you knew that I meant well
And when I looked in your eyes, I thought I knew you could tell
Now I’m going back from the cemetery gates
You who I loved dearly now I must wait
To be reunited in the sky when it opens
Well, my feet are so tired baby but spirit ain’t broken.
Just as one is recovering from the masterpiece, Vollebekk strikes another chord with his equally moving, “Into The Ether.” The song is the pent-up frustration of a person overwhelmed by life. The individual could be Vollebekk revealing his soul and looking in the mirror, or a friend looking upon another in pity.
Sometimes you question life itself
And sometimes you just go on with yourself
You take it out on the mirror
You don’t see yourself no clearer, do ya?
But like every tunnel, there is light at the end. Through “Big Sky Country” and “Michigan,” Vollebekk evokes images of unexplored lands. The songs, however, are more introspective in nature and elude to new beginnings that are on the horizon. There is no specific destination, just the hope that comes with a new day. The experiences of life on the road reverberate on the heavy “East of Eden.” Vollebekk channels Neil Young in his storytelling as he chases after another person into the distance. On the Elliott Smith-esque “Road to Venus,” the journey continues but with someone sitting alongside. Is it Eden or some unknown legend? Regardless, the song is the solitude between two people, a peace and serenity that Vollebekk has been searching for all these years. For one song, he finds it. For an entire, remarkable album, he has given us ours.
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