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They might have gone their seperate ways but the Two Gallants are not forgotten. AOIFE O’ CONNOR looks at the record that changed everything for this San Francisco duo


an Francisco duo Adam Stephens and

make a stab at forging out solo careers.

Tyson Vogel better known as the Two

“What The Toll Tells” is a majestic, sporting a rich

Gallants didn’t cause a huge stir when

sound and some of the Two Gallants most energetic songs.

they debuted on the scene in 2004 with the

Their music is diverse; playing with dynamics such as tempo

none-too-fictional ‘The Threos,’ but it was

changes, violent drumming and harmonica-infused solos, as

in fact their best work to date.

well as mixing the genres of blues, country, folk and punk. All

The first album ‘The Threos’ was pretty much written off

of the songs tell affectionate stories with four songs passing the eight minute mark. Stephen’s whose vocals are raspy at

by critics, referring to lyricist Stephens as boring and lacking

the best of times can be taken to whole new levels of almost a

a storyteller’s intuition when it came to penning songs. But

distraught-sounding howl at times. ‘Steady Rollin,’’ a song that

carrying on regardless, songwriter of the pair Stephens

has become synonymous with the Two Gallants makes light

persisted with his literary fantasies and together with Vogel

of a murdering husband getting rid of his wife’s body: “I shot

they created ‘What the Toll Tells,’ in 2006; an album of such

my wife today / Dropped her body in the ‘Frisco bay / I had

emotive material they had critics eating their words. The

no choice, it was the only way.” The album’s emotional core is

album saw the San Franciscan musical twins receive some

especially strong on ‘Las Cruces Jail’ whose words are richly

much deserved credit and proved beyond any doubt that

defiant: “I write to the governor to hear my plea/ But he don’t

Stephens is in fact a master storyteller.

even answer me/ The judge said he’s bound to set my spirit

Named after a short story by James Joyce, the Two

free/ Sun, don’t you rise no more.” ‘Nothing to You,’ is a more

Gallants are deftly instrumental; Stephens on guitar,

upbeat and prose-like song with abrupt pauses like paragraph

harmonica and vocals and Vogel on drums and vocals.

breaks in a story. Stephens writes about being ‘”down by the

The band developed somewhat of a cult following since

riverside wasting away.”

the twosome decided to go their separate ways, with both Stephens and Vogel deciding to take a well-earned break and

Two Gallants are as much campfire storytellers as they are folk or punk musicians as proven by this epic album.

Profile for Aoife  O' Connor


Prototype folk music magazine


Prototype folk music magazine