It’s not often one encounters a singer-songwriter who sounds so deeply earthen and medieval as Twisted Oak’s Matt Batory. Frequently delicate and nicely antiquated, Batory’s release under the moniker of Twisted Oak, Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes sounds much more like a fascination with the jongleurs of old than it does a repartee with the current folk scene. Although it promotes timelessness in this sense, it does not mean that it is not timely, as the release is an ever -prescient study of male melancholia.
Twisted Oak is, like many other musical endeavors, a means in which an artist such as Batory may try their hand within a relatively ubiquitous genre. And while there is no deficit of the gentle folk singer type, Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes situates itself apart from other projects in that it allows Batory to send himself on a rural journey, consuming the EP’s titular items as he makes sense of it all.
Moreover, Twisted Oak has honed in on the “perfectly likeable despite a naturally flawed presence” persona that works oh so well for many in his camp. The earnestness on the track “Faith” or “You Ran” is such a stripped-down affair that one gets very intimate with Batory, so much so that it’s almost friendly. Whether or not it was Batory’s intent to develop a close connection to listeners through fairly arbitrary subject matter is up in the air, but his unassuming production and presentation speaks volumes about the confidence and conviction of his release.