Despite the No Depression neofolk veneer of Two Gallants’ bare-bones sound, the Bay Area duo’s third release evokes old Appalachian spirituals far more than faux country dressed up as pomo indie cool. Granted, there’s no God to be found within The Scenery of Farewell‘s down-tempo heartache, but the high-lonesome vocals, longing and resignation in the lyrics, and seesaw soaring melodies indeed evoke the hallelujahs of the classic backwoods church. Check out the archetypes on the five-song EP’s addictive lead track, “Seems Like Home to Me”: Baby, let your light shine on me/When I’m lost on the road/You know you could set me free/You could ease my load/Days get so dark/That I can hardly see/I’ve been gone so long/Seems like home to me. This entreaty for romantic reconciliation smacks of Godspeak: the eternal struggle of light vs. dark, how we tend to lose our way on the long road of life and then yearn for freedom from the burden of going it alone, while ultimately finding home in the very struggle from which we’re begging for release.
Raw melodies and woeful harmonies propel much of the music’s message. But there’s also an effective use of lo-fi orchestration as occasional piano, harmonica, and violin/cello augment the core instruments of acoustic guitar and drum kit. In this way, the compositional vision of Two Gallants far outshines that of their peers while echoing their godfathers Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, both of whom also know well the power of the spirit.