A few years ago we came across a press release by the excellent Nadia Reid for her song ‘Oh Canada.’ In it she mentioned many of the reasons why she loved Canadian music. Nadia herself is from New Zealand and she was sending love across the Pacific to many of the Canadian artists who had been a big influence on her. I can’t remember the exact list but suspect there was a sprinkling of familiar artists including Joni Mitchell, The Band and Ron Sexsmith before I stumbled on a name I’d never encountered before: Leif Vollebekk.
I decided we needed to know more and, having listened to a couple of streams I got hold of the only albums I could find, ‘Twin Solitude’ and the more recent ‘New Ways.’ I was hooked. I loved the fact there was no simple categorisation for Leif’s music, but given the obvious influence of Van Morrison I felt it easily slotted into the term, ’Americana’ we use to wrap around all those glorious things we often champion on the AC but don’t quite fit in elsewhere.
I seem to have played the album in and around the house enough for my daughters to have fallen in love too. Earlier this year one of them suggested I take up the spare ticket for Leif’s King Tuts show. One thing led to another and before I knew it Richard Murdoch, my esteemed producer, had also booked Leif to come in to studio One at the BBC here in Scotland to perform a session and answer all the questions I’d been storing up since I first encountered his music. There was so much to talk about and Leif was as intriguing and entertaining in the interview as he was on the piano stool or behind the mic singing with his guitar. We talked influences, key moments and discussed the business of nailing down that essential take which makes the final recording. That feel is really at the heart of Leif’s music. You’ll love the influences and hearing him talk about the importance of Ray Charles’ ‘Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music’ is a real joy. As for his take on the Prince solo piano show…well you’ll need to tune in this week. Oh, and the show at King Tuts? It was excellent and the spirit of it has lingered with me for these last few weeks.
Elsewhere on the show we have the wonderful new title track to Mary Gauthier’s equally fine new album, ‘Dark Enough To See The Stars,’ new things from Anais Mitchell as well as someone fabulous new recordings from Josh Rouse and Midland. We do it all in two hours of Another Country from five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland or on BBC Sounds whenever or wherever you choose. Join me if you can.