Two Dollar Guitar's trajectory has been long and varied, from a singer/songwriter vehicle to a full band and back again. All the while, Tim Foljahn's lyrics have revolved primarily around the same subject: love, especially relationships. Not until a reading of Roland Barthes' 1977 text A Lover's Discourse: Fragments has Foljahn found such a strong conceptual thread to weave through Two Dollar Guitar's continuing exposition on lovers and loving. Foljahn is at his most meditative and solitary here, miming the nature of Barthes' analysis of a single lover's thoughts on love and relationships once both have passed. The album moves like the arc of a relationship, beginning with the instrumental "Blue Coat and Yellow Vest" -- a title taken from Barthes' Fragment of the same name, describing the initial seduction. The lyrics in the 12-minute diptych created by "Cascade" and "The Wild Night" couldn't be more atypical or more specific: here are the mundane thoughts of any lover during the middle of a relationship. Eventually, Foljahn declares on the title track, "I've lost another one," and sheds some honesty on the actualities. The album is bookended by another instrumental entitled "The Ghost Ship," also borrowing a title and concept from a Fragment of the same name. It's here that the lover realizes he is doomed to drift from one love to the next, repeating the same motions and mistakes. It could get a little heavy in all this; thankfully, Foljahn implies rather than steals directly from the text. He also wisely chooses to pare the music down to some of Two Dollar Guitar's most sparse arrangements, the songs often adorned with nothing but Foljahn's voice, guitars, and synthesizer. The sparseness isn't always used to great effect, as in the aimless and tedious "Wide Load." For the most part, Foljahn retains a certain thoughtful spaciousness by letting songs evolve into long codas, the repetition eventually mutating the introspective quality into a moody drone, as if Foljahn is letting himself ruminate on past loves, letting you do the same as you listen.
|Label:||Smells Like Records|