“Nothing, This Makes Sense” is Seth Gallant’s latest release, despite being issued in early 2010. The album begins with a gorgeous piece of arranged minimalist guitar work, recalling one of the more austere mid-90s slowcore acts, Bedhead. The piece contains a gentle melody and spacing between the many guitars on the track, making them breathe with splendor. From there, “Nothing…” unfolds into vocally-driven territory, with songs that showcase Gallant’s alternately feverish and nostalgic narratives over layers of immaculately composed electric and acoustic guitars.
“Nothing…,” on the whole, runs emotionally from weary, to introspective contemplation, to fits of paranoid and maddening tension. The verses on “Pretty Little Things” build in intensity from line to line until reaching a lovely, almost hummable outro. “Confirmation Song,” on the other hand, smolders in its sickness and fragility. Here, Gallant’s disorienting lyrics unite with a labyrinthine-like structure of minor key chords and organ to make a notable and atypical ballad of despair and desperation.
“The Miramichi,” in particular, is an especially powerful song; the sort of track that could make an artist famous if placed on a soundtrack or hyped by the right blogs. It isn’t just beautiful or simply catchy; it’s incredibly beautiful, with lyrical complexities that have the power to break new listeners’ hearts. It recalls some of the more eternal compositions of the late great Townes Van Zandt, country songwriter extraordinaire, in the way that it manages to be both universal and timeless, despite its personal subject matter. In the song’s final verses, Gallant paints a portrait of precious past memories that are at once healing and devastating in their bitter-sweetness.
There’s a dusty folk traditionalism “Nothing…” that meshes with something much more spacious and ethereal, a sensibility more shaded and haunted than most other releases. The final product of this collision, coupled with Gallant’s natural flair for impressionistic lyrical vignettes, is considerably more powerful and resonant than the works of the huge majority of 20-something songwriters out there on the musical landscape.