David Karsten Daniels - Sharp Teeth
I have a horrible case of judging books by their covers, or – more specifically – judging music by the artwork on the album case. For weeks I put off popping David Karsten Daniels’ new album Sharp Teeth into my CD player, only because the cover had a naked cartoon cave-man ripping the intestines out of a naked woman and stuffing them like so many sausages into his mouth. So…can you blame me? Well, whatever your opinion of cartoon cannibalism advertising music, this album was not what I was expecting from this particular cover. Soft and moving with an Iron & Wine mentality about it, Sharp Teeth is anything but…well, sharp. Introspective, emotional, contemplative, and modest, David Karsten Daniels’ fourth full-length since his 2000 The Mayflower debut is a soundtrack for quiet evenings. Tracks like “Universe of No Parts” and “American Pastime” are waltz-affairs, slowly sauntering across sonic landscapes with bittersweet instrumentals riding beneath Daniels’ (and a whole assemblage of other vocal talents’) eerily melancholy lyrics. Quirky at times, deeply thoughtful at others, Sharp Teeth feels purely organic and intimate, without layers of studio-work separating the listener from the raw songwriting talent of Daniels. “Jesus and the Devil” is a simply-spun tale with deeper ramifications, hinting towards religious confusion and misdirection—perhaps becoming a commentary on the modern Christian church by the end. Other tracks like “Beast” and “Scripts” have a distinctly southern-taste to them, almost like a simpler Iron & Wine, or slower moving Jose Gonzalez. Impressive instrumental landscapes are crafted by the long list of musical talents credited for aiding Daniels in the production of this album, including instruments from trumpets to mellotran. Most prominently though, is Daniels’ wonderful vocal abilities and songwriting skills. Sharp Teeth is a somber collection of intimate tracks. They burrow into your mind and bring you with, even if at times you feel dragged along by the pace of it all. So overcome the barrier that is the feasting figures on the cover of Sharp Teeth, and sink your own incisors into David Karsten Daniels’ newest work.
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