The bright, but oddly mournful, opening guitar notes of Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno’s deeply affecting “Good and Gone” grab us right away and vibrate in our hearts, naming every moment we’ve yearned for lost connections, muddled about in a ragged search for completion, regretted leaving but longingly looked back, or run back home with jubilant ambivalence. The band lays down a soulful bed of pedal steel and guitar, each instrument weaving its magic spell and tempting the other to discover those notes that give voice to our inner turmoil and our incessant desire for peace. The multi-layered instrumental beauty recalls the vibrant musical landscapes of Jackson Browne’s earliest albums or of J.D. Souther’s and Chris Hillman’s spaciously melodic collaborations. Leva’s and Calcagno’s vocals echo the bright yearning already created by the instruments, pulling even more at our hearts. “Good and Gone,” a track off the duo’s self-titled album, out March 12, is one of those songs that move us even without lyrics, but with the lyrics it opens us to ourselves in ways that transform us, even for five minutes.
Riley Calcagno says about the song, “I started this song in the stillness of a D.C. night. I was there working as an intern at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and though I was loving my work, I was feeling the panic of life going a bit too fast as this was my first taste of 9-5 adulthood. This song was an imagined scenario of leaving everything and just driving anywhere. Looking for a peace I didn’t yet have within me, I projected that restlessness onto an imagined relationship and the details that remain when you leave someone behind. We recorded this with the full band–Trey, Matty, Chris, and Sam–all live in the studio. The studio door was open and a days-long Louisiana rainstorm was finally over.”