Although he was well on his way to having a successful musical career, Matt Dusk's star certainly got a boost when he appeared on the Fox television reality series, The Casino. As the hired entertainment for Las Vegas' Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, Dusk upped his visual exposure ante just in time for the release of his Decca Records debut, Two Shots. On The Casino, Dusk's attitude, swagger, good looks, and voice basically pay homage the legendary Rat Pack, and Two Shots is his attempt to recapture that tarnished musical era and polish it up for a new generation. There is no question that Dusk has the musical background and reverence for the style in which he has chosen to sing. In the opening song, "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad," Dusk channels Sinatra almost to the point of spiritual possession. He does it very well and it gives the listener a chance to hear what it might have sounded like had Sinatra recorded this song. Indeed, Bono and The Edge from U2 wrote the song specifically for Sinatra, but it remained unrecorded by the legend as Sinatra passed away before he could get it committed to disc. Although this quick jog down Frankie Boulevard is a great exercise, it is a little exhausting when turned into a marathon. With each successive song, Dusk holds on to his Rat Pack croon so tightly that he buries his own identity and emotions. On the excellent original "Five," Dusk has the opportunity to simply enhance his own performance with the melancholic spirit of Sinatra's Only the Lonely album, but his connection with the audience wanes as he spends too much time concentrating on the bend and placement of each note instead of letting go and flying by the seat of his emotions. On the other hand, his Rat Pack embracement is utilized to great effect on "The Theme From Loaded Gun," as Dusk's exaggerated vocals enhance this savvy tribute to spy movie theme songs like "Goldfinger." The song is one of several competent originals penned for this disc that attempt to recall a bygone era, and although these new tunes succeed on that level, none of them, with the exception of "Five," leave an indelible impression. Also included are a fairly straightforward version of "Fly Me to the Moon," a lounge-y rendition of the Beatles' "Please Please Me," and a remix version of "Two Shots" that coats the song in colorful electronics. Technically, Two Shots is well written and produced, so it is up to Dusk to take these songs and sell them; and while the talent and the heart are quite apparent, his performances seem distant as he gets caught up in emulating his idols instead of simply learning from them and incorporating that knowledge into his own personality and style. However, this does not mean that Two Shots is not worthy of a listen as it is quality debut that will appeal to anyone who enjoys pop standards. But if he can sift out the ghosts of the past and find his own voice in these songs, he has the chance to create a disc that truly showcases the unique talent of Matt Dusk.
AllMusic Review by Aaron Latham