Review: Two Gallants: What the Toll Tells (2006)

(Saddle Creek)
Two Gallants sound like the house band of a bar in a drive-thru town in the Midwest, and that is a good thing. The band is made of 20 somethings Adam Stevens and Tyson Vogel who play a guitar and drums respectively. They share vocal duties.

The music is folksy, retrospective, slow, thoughtful, and brash, full of youthful vigour in the body of a jaded traveler. Don’t write them off for their chill pace though, they have something to say, and in their lengthy songs, a rhythm change or two to say it with.

Inherent in their lyrics and vocals is an immediacy and desperation that juxtaposes with the slowdown sound. The first single, “Las Cruces Jail” is an instant favorite and you will find yourself fast forwarding through the minute long, whistle intro to hear the scratched throat scream, “Well I spent last night in Las Cruces jail…” stab into your ear followed by a chugging blues guitar. Up beat and catchy, the song tells the story of a man on his last legs, who won’t give up the fight, a recurrent issue.

“Steady Rollin'” slows things down to the regular rhythm of the album. It is a touching song about lost love and the need to move on. Again, moving on/ looking for what is next sticks in these singers throats and they tell good stories about what eternal longing does to a man.
Some songs run long though, and don’t do to much to engage the listener (“Some Slender Rest,” and “Threnody” come to mind) but fit the mold of the album.
A notable exception to the too slow, too boring rule is the last song, “Waves of Grain” a nine minute exploration into all it is to be American: the safety, the pride, the danger, the shame, and so much more. It is a touching song that glows with a wisdom beyond their few years.

Two Gallants: What the Toll Tell is a journey that is enjoyable to ride along with, and when it is all said and done you kind of wish it went for a few feet more.

7/10 Open Roads

– J.A.

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