Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Vermont-based Seth Gallant goes back to basics

Posted on January 24, 2011 in Arts & Culture
By Jakob Battick

Seth Gallant is a 25-year-old songwriter born and raised in Rumford, ME. Presently, he calls Burlington, Vt. his home. “I really love the solitude [in Rumford]. Sometimes I’ll take a week off and spend it there mellowing out and playing music,” he said. In person, Gallant is soft-spoken and kind. He mostly keeps to himself, but is quick to engage in conversation when the opportunity arises. Onstage he comes across with similar shy warmth, though the emotional intensity of his songs elevates his presence from that of merely a quiet young man to a mysterious and intense figure.

Some of his songs seem to bare cryptic, unexplained traces of deep trauma, although Seth himself isn’t quick to explain where these murky currents come from. “I wouldn’t say that I’ve experienced any tragedy in my life. But I think that being around people brings up experiences that can be made into art,” Gallant said. “Writing songs and playing music or anything like that can be daring. You can say things that you may not be able to say otherwise.”

Gallant has self-released two albums the first, a brief EP, “Songs for a Snowstorm,” came cleverly packaged in a folded brown paper bag. The second, entitled “Nothing, This Makes Sense,” is a longer release but still short when compared to those of similar artists.  All of Gallant’s albums carry a homemade feel: from their packaging, to the stark clarity of their production. His recordings are minimal and often feature only reverberated electric guitars, steel-string acoustics and layered vocals. Most of his songs rely on a foundation of four or five tracks of guitar work and intimate vocals, constructing dense, spectral cores from arrangements that are actually surprisingly lightweight.

Gallant’s sparse instrumentation and occasional use of falsetto might initially bring to mind the work of contemporary artists like Bon Iver or My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. However, his songwriting bares the unmistakable mark of hours spent with the classic American Country & Folk songwriters like Hank Williams Senior or Steve Earle. His melodies and vocal delivery are also deeply informed by these traditions.

“I grew up listening to country music and folk music with my father and I have always been connected to those styles,” Gallant said.

This awareness has set Gallant apart from many other young songwriters today and has allowed him to transcend past quick comparisons to his more obvious contemporaries. Where the rest of the pack is concerned chiefly with modern trends and fashions in songwriting, Gallant has paid respects to the luminaries that have preceded him, and builds from there in his own vision, leaving him with the makings of a classic songwriter.

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