by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Photo found by Brendan Birkett

Leif Vollebekk - "Photographer Friend".

Leif Vollebekk - "Southern United States".

Today I want to suggest that you buy Leif Vollebekk's second album, North Americana, released this week.

There are a lot of young men who love Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams, who write lyrics in notebooks, who sit in creaking apartments, making songs. Leif is one of these young men, and he is one of the best. He lives in Montreal and lives a life like mine, has lived a life like mine, and he has turned this life into magnificent, uncovering music. I say "uncovering" - I mean that he examines his memories, his heart, and finds the lines that begin to say what he has found. He is interested in that "...begin to say" part: not the ends of lines, lasting pronouncements, pat wisdom, bad poetry. He sings what he uncovers, before it has settled. Before it's in amber. Even a song like "Photographer Friend", over slow piano chords - there is a perfect incompleteness: uncovering, searching. A feeling not yet named. The chair makes shifty sounds. The upright bass is an unsentimental companion. Something true has been found, and they're recording it before it's too late.

"Southern United States", North Americana's opening track, is more adorned. Phil Melanson's drums, Joe Grass' pedal steel, Sarah Neufeld's violin. And later, Leif's blazing harmonica - an orange sun that explodes over the windshield. Leif's rhymes remind me a little of the Streets' Mike Skinner: these lines that he lets be, imperfect or too-perfect, no more than what they are. Words are names for things; string them together, scatter a chorus, show.

[buy/iTunes/concerts in Chicago, SXSW, Toronto, Quebec, Mtl]

[photo from Google Maps, found by Brendan Birkett]

Posted by Sean at February 21, 2013 2:56 PM

Pacifying. I dig the word "uncovering" you used Sean. I hear a lot of Ryan Adams here. Vollebekk's lyrics are more down to earth and less polished though. The story telling in "Southern United States" is pretty neat. Reckless too. Which is a good thing I guess.

Posted by Pedram at February 23, 2013 6:08 PM

I absolutely LOVE these tracks, but they aren't available through the USA's itunes. Any way around this?

Posted by Sonja at February 24, 2013 8:32 PM

Photographer Friend is the best song I've heard in a long time. Thank you so much for sharing.

Posted by Bill at February 26, 2013 12:42 PM

Wow - these are lovely! Thank you for consistently introducing me to stuff that I've not heard of and that blows my mind.

Posted by Kate at February 28, 2013 10:36 AM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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