Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes is actually the name of an EP released on September 21, 2018 by West Milford NJ’s own, Matt Batory. Batory, singer/songwriter and producer has been creating music under the artist name Twisted Oak. Batory’s music has a heavy emphasis on mental health issues, which is exemplified in his songwriting. While this EP is the first stepping stone for Twisted Oak’s public direction of music, it’s quite a powerful one.
But to bring us back to our main question, and the relevance of Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes, Batory breaks that down for us. “Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes, is a story about moving on from vices. Both cold coffee and half smoked cigarettes are what would be left behind if someone had decided to rid themselves of physical addictions such as caffeine and nicotine. This imagery symbolizes the remnants of who that person was, but not what they’ve become. In the case of the story of the album, we see love as the central vice. Love can build someone up and break someone down, but the most important part of being in love is realizing that it is not ours to have. When we cling to a possessive love, we let it take over us. This album explores different aspects of this learning.”
Let’s dig in. The first song on this album “Back to Me” begins with gentle guitar fingerpicking, setting the scene for the deeply personal journey we’re about to embark on. When Batory comes in with the vocals, it feels as though you’re right next to him, you can feel the sincerity. The opening riff is also carried throughout the chorus of the tune, creating continuity as well as paralleling the ‘back to me’ idea, repeatedly going back to the same riff. The next song “Hold On” really allows Batory to place a spotlight on the higher range of his voice, and to show off his perfectly choreographed harmonies, that are interesting to the ear as they often move in contrary motion. ‘Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes’ is the third and title track of the EP. This track, similar to the rest, is beautifully written; the lyrics are compelling and thought-provoking, while the rhymes are perfectly eloquent and euphonious. Batory’s voice also often sounds reminiscent of Ben Platt, in the best way. The penultimate song, “You Ran” tells a very sentimental and specific story, but carries a very relatable message for anyone who has ever felt unrequited love. And the final track of Twisted Oak’s EP, is the cherry on top. “Faith”carries a more upbeat tempo and message about having, “faith in tomorrow.”
LONG STORY SHORT: While there’s only two instruments (vocals and guitar) throughout the whole EP, he still successfully paints a whole picture in every song. Cold Coffee and Half Smoked Cigarettes is music you’ll want to sit down and enjoy. Matt Batory’s talent as a musician and songwriter is extremely evident, while this is his first EP, this is just the beginning for Twisted Oak.