Thursday, December 20, 2007
David Karsten Daniels--Sharp Teeth (2007)
Artist-David Karsten Daniels
Release Date-Jan 22, 2007
Review-Any discussion of Sharp Teeth generally begins with some mention of the cover art, which depicts a bearded, razor-toothed young man devouring the innards of a likewise hairy and sharp-toothed woman in the middle of a snowy wilderness. For better or worse, the music itself isn't as gruesome as the cover might imply. David Karsten Daniels turns out to be a pretty gentle guy: a folky indie singer/songwriter along the lines of Chris Garneau, Sparklehorse, or Sufjan Stevens. Sharp Teeth is for the most part an incredibly relaxed listen: all lush string arrangements and gentle acoustic strums, with Daniels rarely raising his voice above a plaintive yowl. But for all their gentleness, Daniels' songs harbor enough religious skepticism, fever dream strangeness, and odd-angled instrumentation to warrant the grim artwork. "I saw Jesus and the devil. They looked just the same," Daniels croons in "Jesus and the Devil." His thoughts aren't exactly earth-shattering — heck, they're hardly even blasphemous — but there's something compelling in Daniels' soft-handed, rain-warped story making. He's able to strike a balance between self-indulgence and showmanship, and this is what saves Sharp Teeth from falling flat on its face. It's precious, it's artsy-fartsy, but it has integrity. Even if Daniels' lyrics aren't exactly profound, and even if they can be pensive-unto-murkiness, there's something compelling in the way they hang among the slightly melted, Salvador Dali-esque string arrangements, the swooping, languid orchestral flourishes, and Daniels' mossy, nasal vocals. Sharp Teeth digs into you and doesn't quite let go.