Canadian singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk has regularly captured the solitude that arises in between the coming and the going. Where his past music took a more meditative position about that kind of uncertainty, his latest song “Long Blue Light” captures a greater sense of impatience. “Don’t know where I’m heading/ Don’t know where I’m from/ I’m here just waiting/ For my day to come,” he sings. It’s hard to keep anxiety at bay when the outcome feels so out of reach.
Awaiting clarity—a decision, a call—he pleads his case. “I’m on your side, on your side / Long blue light,” he sings almost matter-of-factly, avoiding drawing his voice out into a sustain. The quick clip of his pacing betrays a growing restlessness.
“Long Blue Light” shifts Vollebekk’s sound. Across his repertoire, he’s traded heavily in piano, brass, and drums, building a jazz influence that fit his sparse lyricism. Those instincts—spare in both word and note—build an indulgent amount of space into his music, and it’s easy to bask in the atmosphere he creates.
But Vollebekk hems in “Long Blue Light.” The song was originally recorded as part of his 2019 album New Ways. Returning to it now, he eschews the space that influenced that project. Instead, he places drums front and center, overdubbing the track with dobro courtesy of guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. Her instrument and meandering style lend “Long Blue Light” a rustic feel that attempts to counter the underlying anxiety at its center.
That dichotomy doesn’t reach an easy resolution, but then nothing is truly easy when you’re waiting for an answer, when you’re waiting for the long blue light. Don’t we know as much in this wild year called 2020?