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“Two Hands” by Albert Cummings

Everything in western music tends to have some roots in the blues, and in his new single “Two Hands,” country crooner Albert Cummings is honoring these roots the only way he knows how – with a powerful melody the size of a delta hurricane. Rather than trying to force a big riff into a quaint country groove, Cummings is doing the opposite and starting from the ground up in this performance, ensuring that anyone who happens to be listening will immediately get enthralled by the vibrant energy of his voice, the riffing, and his backing band’s beat.

There’s a lot of heat coming off of these guitar parts, but I wouldn’t say that Cummings is putting all of our attention on the fretwork. There’s no excessive soloing taking place in this arrangement, and the band lends no quarter to a fat bottom end because there’s no need for one; everything starts and ends with the cadence of the verses, all of which are backed with a sizzling guitar part that could have carried the song all by itself. Instrumentation doesn’t matter as much as it should in mainstream country, but it’s something this player is obviously taking very seriously here.

“Two Hands” has a great swing to it, and at no point do we feel like the rhythm is going to rip away from the melodic componentry at hand. As far as chemistry goes, it’s obvious that the musicians sharing this studio have a lot more in common than their love of the music alone, as they’re able to play off of cues without breaking stride for even a moment. You can’t synthesize this kind of magnetic energy, and any critic who has an affinity for the blues, Americana, or country music in any capacity is likely to share in my sentiments this year.

This mix allows for Cummings and his band to sound like they’re playing a rowdy bar show rather than a recording studio alone, and not because of any exaggerated instrumental elements. Contrarily, there’s simply nothing getting in the way of their output here – the music is as stiff as a glass of moonshine, and we’re never given any option other than to fall in with wherever this beat is going to take us next, not unlike the vibe of witnessing a group performing live, where literally anything can happen on the stage before us.

If I’m going to listen to a country crossover, it needs to have a lot of adrenaline giving it a push, and that’s exactly what I love about “Two Hands.” Albert Cummings doesn’t try to reinvent anything about country-blues in this performance but instead just turns up the volume and gives us everything his hands and voice can muster inside of three and a half minutes of really superior audio domination. There’s something here for the rock crowd just as well as there is the country fan, and if you don’t know what kind of hot track to listen to this August, “Two Hands” might have some enthusiasm to throw your way.

Mindy McCall



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