Monday, 15 April 2013

Leif Vollebekk - North Americana

Utmerket Americana

It’s mainly in the name I think, but Norwegian-Canadian singer/songwriter Leif Vollebeck has little of the Scandinavian about his music – other than title of seventh track Takk Somuleiois [sans inflections above certain vowels] – and the album title pretty much broadcasts where his geographical sound actually resides. As do his clear influences: the vocal, as is readily noted in reviews I’ve read, is unmistakably Ryan Adams, and I have detected a little of Josh T Pearson on opener Southern United States, and elements of Jeff Buckley [isn’t that so often the precursor case?] on the aforementioned seventh unpronounceable.

But the music is superlative Americana, reflecting voices mentioned above and a bit of Dylan – also widely noted – because of the use of harmonica really rather than in the songs which are very Adamesque. Vollebeck shouldn’t, however, be defined/confined by the vocal links as his voice is clearly his own, rather than an affectation, and it delivers strongly throughout the album’s twelve tracks. The home-recording authenticity adds to the overall musical credibility, and the accompanying musicians add their own stellar support at times to arrangements which are lively and skewed just that bit to be original, especially the violin contributions from Arcade Fire luminary Sarah Neufeld: eerie on the opener, for example, and where the pedal steel of Joe Grass adds more Americana texture.

As ever, the lyrical dimension requires further listening and I am writing this very much as a first impression, and a strong one at that. Indeed, the music is ‘classic’ enough to prompt that aural urge to listen again and more deeply. I trust that is accolade and recommendation enough. 

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