House of Leaf
House of Leaf marks the ”solo” debut of one of Sweden’s most talented singers, songwriters and musicians, Leif Sundin. Expect great songs, organic playing, and a timeless sound, steeped in Americana.
Among insiders, Swedish singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Leif Sundin is considered a singer’s singer. A vocalist whose talents range from heavy metal to rootsy Americana. He’s been the lead singer of Great King Rat, Michael Schenker Group, John Norum (of the band Europe), and Brian Robertson (ex-Thin Lizzy, Motörhead). Yet, he’s remained one of Scandinavia’s best kept secrets.
Part of the reason for the latter is due to his humble stance. He’s never applied for the job as a vocalist with anyone – they’ve always looked him up. Another reason is his former lack of focus on his own career. He’s always written stuff for others, as well as himself. He’s written and sung backing vocals for acts as diverse as Andy McCoy, A-Teens, Talisman, and Pandora, and dozens of other artists. But he’s never come around to releasing a solo project. Until now.
When you hear the new album, one thing is certain: it’s been worth the wait. Not only does Sundin deliver as a vocalist; he also proves to be a fluent, tasteful player (handling all the guitars on the album), as well as a creator of memorable melodies and heartfelt, soul searching lyrics. Some songs deal with longing and wasted time: Wash Away Yesterday, That Train Just Left and Wrongs to Right. Others display a new found hope, and optimism. They are all different parts of the story, and this is an album in the true sense of the word. But it’s just as easy to imagine hearing these songs on the radio.
Sundin could easily have done a blues rock album, a metal album or a pop album if he wanted. This time, he chose to focus on timeless, rootsy, soulful and slightly country-tinged rock music, using the sound of guitars, bass, drums and THAT voice.
”One of the good things about House of Leaf, is that it’s me and any number of people I choose to work with”, he explains. ”There is no fixed line-up. This time, I’ve had help from some of the best musicians in Sweden who also happen to be good friends, helping me make the best possible album”.
The seamless blend of influences heard on the album range from Steve Earle to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Aimee Mann, Ryan Adams and other greats.
”Because I’ve worked with some big names in the harder rock field, a lot of people are probably unaware of the fact that I’ve always liked this type of music – I guess you can call it ”Americana”, in the broader sense of the word”.
Growing up in the Swedish suburbs, Sundin was always the youngest member of the bands he was asked to join. Early on, he was in possession of a mature, bluesy and powerful voice that raised eyebrows – at first locally, then throughout the world.
Aged 19, Sundin started making a name for himself fronting the much-loved, but ultimately ill-fated, Swedish band Great King Rat. Despite major label interest in several quarters, they never landed the deal that would have turned them into a household name. Instead, they were represented by inexperienced industry people who let one opportunity after another pass before their eyes. Luckily, the band managed to create a strong buzz among musicians. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin showered Sundin’s voice with praise, saying ”the nearest thing I’ve seen to a young Paul Rodgers” in legendary British magazine Kerrang! Michael Schenker went even further, and decided to seek out this prodigal talent, and offer him the job as frontman of MSG.
Sundin accepted. Aged 24, he found himself in a Tuscon, Arizona rehearsal room, creating melodies for Schenker’s riffs, and writing lyrics in his hotel room at night.
”Of course I was living the dream! I had hardly been to America before”, he smiles. Soon, he recorded and toured as lead vocalist of Michael Schenker Group.
Since then, he’s been here, there and everywhere, fronting different bands, providing vocals, singing duets with the likes of international movie star Izabella Scorupco, performing with people like Slash, while constantly writing and demoing songs.
Following the MSG gig, he was the lead vocalist in John Norum Band, forging a creative relationship that still lasts. More recently, he provided lead vocals for the long-awaited solo album by ex-Lizzy legend Brian Robertson.
And now, it’s time for House of Leaf. Written and produced by Sundin himself, recorded and mixed with Robert Wellerfors, it also includes mixes by Grammy-award winning producer Stacy Parrish and Adam Elk from the Mommyheads. The album consists of the best songs he’s written over the years. It’s organic, it’s real, and it’s based on performances, rather than studio trickery. This is the real deal, and you can feel it.
Sundin would be the first one to admit that he’s too often been wasting time hanging around, instead of utilizing his considerable talents as a singer, writer, player, and producer.
But things have changed. His warm, soulful voice was always there, but there’s a new sense of purpose to his delivery. House of Leaf may have been a long time coming, but once it’s started it will be very hard to stop.
Not that anyone in their right mind would want to.
Just listen and judge for yourselves.