New Jersey’s Twisted Oak recently dropped Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes, a collection of five tracks about moving on from vices.
Twisted Oak is the musical project Matt Batory, a singer-songwriter and producer hailing from New Jersey. By the age of 14, Batory was writing original songs. Later, he attended Marist College where he sang in a variety of choral and Capella groups, including the Marist College Chamber Choir, under the direction of Sarah Williams.
Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes is a metaphor for the vice of love, which can take on toxic qualities, especially when it becomes possessive and co-dependent.
According to Batory, “These songs are ones that symbolize huge moments in my life. Being able to express those moments in a way that I am proud of is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. All I ever want to do with music is make an experience that people feel more so than listen to.”
The first track is “Back To Me,” a gentle, acoustic tune colored with alt-pop tints. Initially, Batory’s voice projects a mellow depth, tender and smooth; as the song proceeds, his tones take on a more strident color, full of passion. “Hold On” exudes a creamy folk-pop flavor riding a simple guitar, as Batory’s voice floats overhead. There’s something about this tune that reminds of Joni Mitchell, a kind of sonic simplicity of charm and grace.
The title track is another soft acoustic number topped by Batory’s warm voice, as he sings about topics most people think, but rarely say out loud: “What am I doing here? / What am i doing wrong? / What do I think about when the night seems way too long? / Why do we hate being alone?”
“You Ran” features a lightly strumming guitar and melodious vocals expressing the flickering sorrow of love lost, along with the pervasive questions that remain. “Faith” rides a bluesy, swamp-lite tune on a faster cadence than the other tunes on the EP. This might be my favorite tune because of its layered acoustic guitars and tight harmonic flow.
With Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes, Twisted Oak, aka Matt Batory, delivers soft, smooth folk-pop.