An undeniably Austin-style twang meets old fashioned folk storytelling in “Whiskey Kisses,” the second single from rising indie stars The American Revival, who are generating quite a buzz this autumn ahead of the premier of their official debut LP. This song’s lyrics are built around pastoral metaphors that don’t overly indulge in their own simplicity yet manage to grow an otherwise bare bones structure into a bold plethora of color and texture. What’s more, “Whiskey Kisses” does one thing that most country-flavored songs of its persuasion rarely are able to pull off; it doesn’t recycle any of the genre’s much-exploited themes and theatrics. There aren’t any sorted platitudes about cheating wives or slinging empty bolds beside an American flag; there’s only a homespun story of undying love, emptiness, self-acceptance and a fearless determination to regain control over something that we had once thought gone forever. The American Revival live up to their moniker in this track, drawing inspiration from classic Americana while injecting it with a modern beat that is sophisticated and cerebral but thankfully not full of itself in the slightest.
“Whiskey Kisses” has this restrained urgency in its tempo that is frustratingly tense to put it mildly. Every time we want the vocals to edge their way to center stage, they stoically recoil and continue in even stride with the rest of the band. Even when the song comes uncaged in the chorus, the pandemonium never escapes the realm of the percussion, which is buried beneath the bright strands of sonic boisterousness that are coming off of the string section. On paper this arrangement has all the makings of being an underwhelming, anti-climactic pop song, but when filtered through the lens of The American Revival’s gilded bass-heavy country wallop it becomes a power ballad for the ages. There’s plenty of aesthetical nuggets to satisfy rock-oriented listeners too, namely within the chunkiness of the guitars. I don’t think anyone could make the case that this Lone Star quintet doesn’t have an extremely diversified musical profile; just inside of this five minute track they’re able to work their way through a vast portion of the American songbook without ever resorting to cheap tricks or imitative production schemes.
Calling The American Revival a country band just doesn’t seem like a fair analysis of what they’ve shown us so far with “Whiskey Kisses” and their debut single “On My Way.” Their sound borrows heavily from the garage rocking clatter of 70’s heavyweights as well as Tennessee troubadours of a different generation, and a huge reason why their sound is so contrasting to their peers is that they never dabble too much in either side of their collective personality. They’re still finding their footing, but on a compositional level they’ve figured out a really smart formula for turning basic country jams into moving, purging bursts of catharsis that become quite addictive after just one listen. I’m very excited to hear what the rest of their upcoming virgin album has to offer, but based on what I’ve come in contact with so far it’s highly unlikely I’ll be disappointed.