Saddle Creek | Two Gallants | Reviews


What the Toll Tells

Author: Kevin Alfoldy
03/08/2006 | | | Album Review
The past few months have been pretty rough. It seems like every other week I've had to get on a flight at the crack of dawn on Monday morning to spend the week working in LA, only to catch a late flight back to San Francisco on Friday night. In between is a whirlwind of work, traffic, and confusion stemming from the feeling of being displaced so frequently. The bright spot of the whole ordeal being the time I get to spend with a certain someone while I am in town, the happiness of our reunion unfortunately gives way to the realization that I will once again have to say goodbye to her. By the end of the week I am dragging myself around, ready to sleep through the weekend in my own bed, but sad to be leaving.

Luckily, I have Two Gallants to listen to as I fade out in my seat on the return flight home. Closing my eyes, their heartbroken tales take my mind off of my own weariness and grief. Commiserating with the songs of sorrow and vulnerability, I can't help but feel a little bit better as the plane takes off.

Evoking the twang of early country, straight forwardness of rock n' roll, and emotion of indie-rock, Two Gallants sing caustic tales steeped in anguish and pain as seen through the eyes of the lonesome outsider. While the music on What the Toll Tells is more upbeat than their previous album, The Throes, lyrically the songs tackle the same themes. Sounding wearier than a young man should, singer Adam Stephens' narratives are a perfect compliment to the bluesy guitar and drums. Both voice and music are stripped down and raw, easily conveying the underlying emotion in each of the songs. As an added bonus, a harmonica is frequently employed, just begging the comparison between a certain folk hero who also sang rich narratives.

Not an album for a sunny day, What the Toll Tells can seem gloomy and filled with shadows. In fact, the specter of death seems to pervade most of the songs but unfortunately, as is often the case in life, there is nary a happy ending in sight. But that doesn't mean the Two Gallants should be written of as being exaggeratedly morose. In the tradition of American music, they are the most recent in a long line of musicians who are just telling it like it is.
What the Toll Tells

What the Toll Tells

LP / CD / MP3