Two-Cent Revival: "The Devil's in this Whiskey"
By David M. Goldstein | 30 June 2011
Here’s something novel: a commercially viable country song that isn’t produced to within an inch of its life. It’s to Two-Cent Revival’s credit that I could imagine “The Devil’s in this Whiskey” sitting pretty on the VH1 Top 20 Countdown amidst the shiny likes of Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars; it’s a well put together country tune that many people will enjoy. The difference here is that Two-Cent Revival’s song sounds like it was composed and played by actual human beings. The flowery string sections and anti-septic scrub characteristic of most radio-ready country is mercifully absent in favor of clean acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, and a convincing blues harp solo at the bridge. It may have even been recorded live to the floor. Truly the mind reels.
Two-Cent Revival is helmed by one Matt Jones, a Texas-bred, New York City-residing singer-songwriter. His trump card is a miles-deep baritone that immediately calls Mark Lanegan to mind, albeit a friendlier, less blatantly homicidal version. The title track off his band’s recent EP is pretty standard variation on the textbook, woe-is-me drinking story common to his chosen genre, but it’s exceedingly well constructed, with a deft key change signaling a chorus that will lodge in your head for days. Jones’ backing band revels in warm production values that place a premium on instrument separation, and the result is a classic-sounding, non-cloying country song among the most pleasant I’ve heard this year.