By Liam Prost
CALGARY — You may know her from HexRay, EMBASSYLIGHTS, Woodpigeon, or more directly, as Laura Leif. Leif has adopted the new moniker L.T. Leif to mark a new, “darker” chapter in her music, and also to rebrand from a singer-songwriter project into a band. The name is concise and professional, but also layered and introspective like the music it touches.
“With a lot of what I do, there is a bit of my sense of humour that slips in,” Leif tells BeatRoute, and we can certainly see it in the name. Lieutenant Leif perhaps? Or L. tea-leaf? There is a lightness that sits behind the otherwise impersonal name that aligns well with Leif herself.
Her new record Shadow on the Brim/Rough Beasts is centred on this kind of duality. The split name separates two very different moments. The first half of the record was recorded with Jay Crocker in Nova Scotia over the course of two winter weeks, during which time the two “pretty much just worked on [the] record.” The title, Shadow on the Brim, title stems from the notion of the cup of joy, which aspires to be “filled to the brim.” But even the brim of a cup casts a shadow.
This first half was very collaborative, Leif describes that she and Crocker “came to something together that we wouldn’t have come to separately.” Leif is an admitted “perfectionist,” and they opted to keep only the tracks they were totally happy with, but in doing so were left short of a whole album.
As Leif sat on the recordings, she was prompted another opportunity to record a separate set of songs, which through pure serendipity ended up the same length as Shadow on the Brim, just long enough to fill one half of a vinyl pressing. This became Rough Beasts. Leif then spent months exhaustively listening and reordering the tracks through “trial and error.”
“Ultimately I was trying to make it work as a whole, as a journey,” Leif describes. The record follows a very strong arc, peaking during “under our walking, a cave,” a brooding instrumental passage that ends with the flip of the vinyl. On the other side we are warmly greeted by the adorable and intimate “puff ball thing,” a respite from the storm, and the beginning of the second leg of the “journey.”
L.T. Leif’s new self-released record Shadow on the Brim/Rough Beasts is available now.AB, Alberta, L.T. Leif, Shadow on the Brim/Rough Beasts