Review Summary: "A warm refuge from a cold storm"
When Two Saviors
dropped in the early days of the dreary winter of 2021, it became for a few weeks my favorite morning music. As I waited for my coffee to brew, looking out the frozen kitchen window of my poorly heated Montreal apartment, the gentle strums of “Pareidolia” sounded, to me, like a promise of spring.
Buck Meek is best known as a founding member of indie band Big Thief; in the band’s sound, his distinctive musical personality translates into soft background crooning and precise, sparse, and poignant guitar contributions – his solo on “Paul” from their 2016 debut Masterpiece
contains no more than three notes but is emotionally so precise and heavy that one gets lost into it. Here, on his second solo LP, Meek is in the foreground, and this raw and beautiful simplicity is allowed to blossom.
It is not surprising that Two Saviors was recorded in the span of a few weeks, in the summer of 2019 – there is an immediate, spontaneous quality to these songs. The five-person band that Meek has assembled, which includes his brother Dylan Meek on the piano, is very solid, from the mournful slide guitar of the title-track to the honky-tonk piano of “Two Moons (morning)” and the relaxed drums that provide the slow groove that pervades the record. The result is a laid-back sound bearing all the hallmarks of the best country music of that last sixty years.
With a pleasant balance of ballads and groovy mid-tempo tunes, Two Saviors
is a very consistent album. The song “Two Moons” is featured in two different versions, the first a simple guitar ballad and the second a joyful swinging affair. “Pocketknife” is a fiddle-driven melancholic tune that captures a moment of heartbreak and loneliness, the narrator finding solace in coffee and apple pie as crows pass in the sky, themes and images which will be echoed in Big Thief’s 2022 song “Dried Roses”.
The lyrical world of Two Saviors is filled with delightful characters, anecdotes, stories imbued with the fleeting strangeness of everyday life. In “Second Sight”, he sings of an acquaintance who is gifted with the titular extrasensory perception: “My man with the moving van is looking for a job to do / He’ll work for cheap but he’ll change you.” “Candle” sounds like a nostalgic, luminous letter to a long-lost love, and the narrator’s world-weariness recalls Joni Mitchell’s melancholic travelogue Hejira
as Meek sings: “Heaven is a motel with a telephone seashell. / Check-out’s at eleven, so don’t ask for more time.” Meanwhile, “Ham on White”, the album’s shortest song, delivers some absurd humour as the singer begs “Annie” (short for Adrianne?) to save him half a sandwich: “I haven’t eaten since 1995 / It’s a miracle I’m alive.”
Painting vivid pictures with a few carefully chosen words and bright, sincere music, Two Saviors
feels like a conversation with a friend who wears their heart on their sleeve and never runs out of stories to tell and good advice to share. As winter is nearing its end, I trust the last words of “Halo Light”, which beautifully closes Two Saviors
Pain came in seasons departed
Our bodies left alone
All our love will stay
To live again tomorrow