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Twisted Oak - Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes (Self-Released)

25 November 2018

Twisted Oak is the solo project of New Jersey musician Matthew Batory. Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes is his first EP, and it is a concept record of sorts, using both vices in the title as an allegorical statement about love. It’s an extremely stripped back collection of songs, with only Batory on acoustic guitar and vocals, but in many ways it adds greater focus to the lyrics and it’s a style reminiscent of Ed Sheeran or Damien Rice. The songs are all rich in their open honesty and symbolic imagery, and Twisted Oak quickly cements itself as a standout in the genre.

From the heartbreakingly somber “Back to Me” to the cautiously optimistic “Faith,” there a real immediacy in the emotional content from Batory, as if there exists no distance at all between the artist and the audience. There’s an essentially melancholy aspect to his voice, and it’s a big help on a number of the more downcast songs on the EP like the title track, “Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes.” One could argue that in future, Twisted Oak could use a little more production to prevent it from becoming too singer-songwriter-y, but it’s nevertheless a very strong start.