Joni Mitchell once said that we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, and in “Whiskey Kisses” contemporary indie rock/country outfit The American Revival explores what it’s like to go after what’s gone in hopes of becoming whole once more. The melody that this latest single from the Austin-stationed band pushes out here is riddled with an emotional bend that ebbs and flows under the direction of the pointed poetry that serves as lyrics, and though the band tries quite hard to drown their sadness is sonic libations of the string variety, the painful tonality of the words is never lost on us.
Passion is a required ingredient for creating anything organic and real in music of any genre, and “Whisky Kisses” is at times so rich with vitality that it comes across as a live number instead of an originally produced studio track. The American Revival prove unquestionably that they have what it takes to bring as many country fans to their old school rock n’ roll spectacle as they do hardened indie disciples with this single, and what it lacks in commercialized pomp it makes up for with brutally honest lyricism.
The American Revival have a lot of traditional folk elements in their sound, but this song is firmly steeped in the cinematic stylization of classic rock music. There’s a countrified twist in the harmonies that makes the words feel very down to earth and accessible to us, but the rhythm is straight up blues rock, just with more of a rollicking swing instead of a stomping one. The means in which the bass slithers through the percussion to greet us halfway through the track is deceptively simple; in reality, this master mix is so intricately designed that every instrument is positioned so as to emphasize the carnal vibrancy of the verses. Everything we’re hearing is built on the foundation of Brandon Callies’ words, which are stacked high next to the relatively muted keys that consistently press against the drumming. As we near the song’s conclusion the tempo seems to slow down a little, making the ending as smooth as the lumbering opening bars are.
I’ve found that “Whiskey Kisses” becomes all the more haunting and sonically jarring with each listening session that I partake in. Long after the band ceases to play, the melody lingers in my mind with the same gripping nature as an emotional memory would possess, and though the lyrics are defined by the content of their narrative and not just by the main hook in the music, the earnestly appointed harmonies festered in my brain later on just as much as the story behind the verses did.
The American Revival have all the makings of becoming a well-rounded crossover attraction that could possibly lure rockers and country fans to the same show, and “Whiskey Kisses” highlights how well they’re able to straddle the grey area between the two aesthetically polarizing styles. They’re well on their way to climbing the ranks of modern musical hybrids, and I definitely plan on following their journey as it continues to unfold.