Leif Vollebekk

Leif Vollebekk

"A friend told me it was Saturn returns and that may be true. I was about to turn thirty and I knew that if I didn't change direction I was going to end up exactly where I was headed."

At the end of Leif Vollebekk's twenties, his own songs didn't sound right. He had spent an entire year on the road, playing almost 100 shows, but every night his favourite moment came only right at the end, covering a song by Ray Charles or Townes Van Zandt. Every time he got home from tour he took a hot shower and lay still under a window, listening to Nick Drake's Pink Moon, feeling saved, wondering why his own music didn't give him that. Why the songs he had written himself always felt like so much work.

He booked himself a secret show. One night only at a Montreal dive bar -- not to play his own songs but other people's. Leif found a rhythm section and they rehearsed once. Then midnight unspooled. Leif called it the most fun he had ever had playing music: Ray Charles and Tom Waits over a locked groove; Bob Dylan and Kendrick Lamar over a slow pulse. The light was dark blue and purple.

It was time, Leif understood, to make a dark blue and purple record. An album of locked groove and slow pulse, heavy as a fever. And the lesson he learned from singing all those other people's songs was that none of those other artists seemed worried about anything except laying down their own souls, flat out. "I used to think, 'This will be kinda like a Neil Young song,' 'This will be kinda like a Bob Dylan song,'" he recalled. "I kinda ran out of people to imitate. And then there was just me."

His first new song came to him on his bicycle. He wasn't thinking, wasn't trying, but the rhythm, the chords, the melody -- it all just fluttered up. He tried at first to let it go: the song wasn't meticulous enough, it wasn't studied or conceived. The next morning it still came back to him, incontestable. "I told myself, 'You're never saying no to a song ever again,'" Leif said. "I realized I had been saying 'no' to a lot of songs, over the years." Twin Solitude is what happened when Leif stopped saying no. The songs started coming so fast: fully formed, impossible. "Vancouver Time" took 15 minutes; "Telluride" took less. It was as if the songs were waiting for him. Instead of obsessing about the details of recording, "I just showed up to the studio and went, 'Let's see what happens.'"

What happened was, they got it: "Big Sky Country" and its patient, coasting tranquility, "Into the Ether," which rides to reverie with the Brooklyn string duo Chargaux. There's "East of Eden," an interpolation of Gillian Welch, which doesn't seem like it ever ought to end. For a beautiful album, Twin Solitude is deceptively brave, filled with unexpected refrains. "When the cards get stuck together / so hard to pull them apart," Leif sings, "I think your face is showing." Then: "Ain't the first time that it's snowing."

Yet in its heart, above all, Twin Solitude is a gesture back to Leif's long nights under a pink moon, when a record was the only thing that could keep him company. Besides a wink to Hugh MacLennan's novel "Two Solitudes," this is the unlonely loneliness of the album's title. "It isn't a record I made for other people -- it's the one I made for myself," Leif said. "It's the album I wish I could have put on."

Listen to it in a rental car in cold weather, with the windows all rolled up. Listen to it laying by an open window. Listen to it all the way through, alone. "By the time the last notes die away, all that's left should be you," Leif told me. "And I'll be somewhere else. And that's Twin Solitude."

Riley Pinkerton

Riley Pinkerton is a singer-songwriter based in NYC. In January 2016 Pinkerton released her debut EP titled "Do You Have A Car," recorded at Yes, Master Studios in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Brian Carroll of Folk/Americana music review site, Red Line Roots, described Pinkerton's "Do You Have A Car" as "Beautiful in the simplicity of its execution, but profound all the while in how she can make you feel so much with so little in a few guitar lines and a voice..." and "Moving, poignant, [and] ethereal...” Since the release of her debut EP, Pinkerton has been touring throughout the continental U.S. When home, Pinkerton continues writing and recording demos in anticipation of her debut full-length album.

"She’s an artist that writes songs that are tenacious, yet tender. They scratch and claw one moment, only to lay submissively at your feet the very next..." says Chip McCabe of music review blog, The Metal Dad. Lyrically inspired by human behavior, mental processes, and human interactions on an individual scale, Pinkerton catalogues interactions between society and the natural world, and their ensuing consequences. Composing on and self-accompanied by guitar, she weaves comparative, poetic fictional tales and often cautionary, melodic short story songs, in addition to metaphorical and cathartic pieces.​​

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