'An album that rewards long-time listeners but is equally comfortable at sharing its heartbreak to newcomers'
James Ayles
15:10 30th October 2019

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An album that rewards long-time listeners but is equally comfortable at sharing its heartbreak to newcomers, Leif Vollebekk’s New Ways is a startling, intimate record that delves deep into the musician’s world.

Starting with the slow-burning ‘The Way That You Feel’, there’s never a rush as Vollebekk pushes gently through this painstakingly collated selection of stories from his life, stripped down, recounted and shared. Admittedly, not a record to put on before a night out, it can still take you to places you rarely go. The soaring, ethereal ‘Transatlantic Flight’ morphs into an unassuming epic, at 06:50 in length, of pure escapist charm. Vollebekk happily takes the tempo up a little on ‘Blood Brother’, that lilting voice imbued at once with the very real sense of hope and sadness that afflicts everyone every day, "It’s just like I ain’t here, I’m gonna plain disappear…”

Having earned a Polaris Music Prize nomination for 2017’s Twin Solitude and with it 23 million streams and near-universal acclaim, the latest record is part-journal, part-self-help guide born from his experiences of the past two years. The Candian is a dab hand at this low-key indie folk, now on his fourth release nine years after releasing debut Inland, itself followed up by 2013’s North Americana. This album, then, is as much a mark of time as anything, of an artist at ease with sharing the most raw of imagery and pain through his work. Parts of Inland sound almost glib and guarded by comparison.

With each carefully measured song, Leif lays out everything you dislike in the world and repackages it in ways that make everything seem slightly less gloomy. On this album, Leif lives in the little details, the tiny observations that can make the world come alive. Like those little idiosyncrasies only you can notice after working for years on a relationship, Vollebekk wallows in the intimate; a wistful recollection of “the sun through my eyelids,” an almost painful recall at “a sign on the highway covered in rain”, switching to the earnest with ease "a jacket I wore until I gave it to you.”

Vollebekk admits a change in perspective for this run-through: "That last record I made for me. This one is for somebody else.” Recorded between Los Angeles’ Capitol Studios and Studio Breakglass in his hometown on Montreal, Vollebekk recruits a stellar cast of contributors, with mixing by the legendary Chris Allen. With Olivier Fairfield (Timber Timbre) and Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings, Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson) on drums, it also features additional vocals from the fast-rising Angie McMahon after his support slot on her tour of Australia.

New Ways is released on 1 November 2019 via Secret City Records.

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