Among the many reasons why I love Two Gallants, one of the most prominent is the way their songs feel alive, as if they posses minds of their own. Stephens recently told Sentimentalist, “I’m constantly changing things in the songs, even live.” It shows, in both live and recorded versions of their work. The more I go to shows and listen to the songs in their different stages, the more each song seems like a person, growing and evolving in its own ways.
A stunning example of this is “All Your Faithless Loyalties,” which was first released on a compilation by Saddle Creek called Lagniappe: A Saddle Creek Benefit for Hurricane Katrina Relief. It was shortly after the band had signed with the label. For a long time, it was one of my favorite songs of theirs, and I continually hoped they would release it as part of an album.
Two Gallants: “All Your Faithless Loyalties (Lagniappe Version)” (download)
Eventually they did release it, on the Scenery of Farewell EP. However, the version released on the EP was wildly different from the original. At first, it was upsetting that they altered such an incredible song, but now it’s become another song I love, in a wildly different way.
It could be that, if this song is autobiographical to any extent, his relationship with the person changed. The first song sounds more resigned and mournful of the separation, whereas the second version sounds angrier. Much of the melody of the song remains, but it’s slowed down considerably. Of the lyrics, one verse is left intact, along with a sentence or two, but it’s largely revamped.
Two Gallants: “All Your Faithless Loyalties (Farewell Version)” (download)
This isn’t the first instance where they’ve done this, either. “Steady Rollin’,” another favorite of mine, went through a lot of changes before it was released, with hardly any two live versions sounding alike in its development days.
It’s surprising, in a way, for their songs to change so much – more often, when we hear bands changing things from version to version, whether live or recorded, it’s more subtle. But Two Gallants welcome us into their creative process, and it provides more insight and intimacy with these two alluring musicians.