More a collaboration than a split release, with the two bands condensing their rosters into one amazingly tight-sounding amalgam bridging both Bright Eyes’ rousing folk-dramatic style and Neva Dinova’s somnambulistic sadcore, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels is a more than appropriate title, as both groups are clearly drinking from the same creative vintage. Sighing with resignation and defeat, the opening “Tripped” melts pedal steel and fluttering keyboards into a beautifully dejected sonic stew. Neva Dinova leader Jake Bellows really steals the show here (which is saying something given the presence of Bright Eyes wunderkind Conor Oberst), his drowsy croon imbuing his tracks with a languid anxiety akin to that of Neil Young’s Harvest.
If anything, the dividing line between the two bands is rendered a bit murky, though the country-folk sonic milieu works extremely well as a concept. And while the tracks generally smooth out the differences between the two acts, “Black Comedy” is an unmistakable Oberst track, his wavering vocals perfectly suited to the swooning bells, sharp melodic turns and arresting imagery. In fact, the rousing chorus of horns and swooning melodies of “I’ll Be Your Friend” ranks among his best recorded moments. Add a few brokenhearted weeps to close out the set and you have the rare split release whose quality is more akin to a full-length than the friends-getting-together-to-waste-time vibe generally dominating these projects.