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Into The Wild
Ethan Daniel Davidson might say that John Krakauer inspired his latest album. Originally from Detroit, the folk singer-songwriter played over 900 locations in six years to promote his last album before taking a long, chilly break in Alaska. Silvertooth, his first record in seven years, musically parallels Davidson’s geographic exploration—but not in a good way. From ballads to Halloween party-esque tracks, Silvertooth lacks grounding.
Like a fashion designer’s fall collection, a musician’s project needs continuity among varying song styles, tempos and composition. Individually, these songs are fairly interesting. But trying to listen the record from beginning to end causes confusion and reveals ambition never realized. Silvertooth begins relatively strong. “Ain’t The Man I Used To Be” reintroduces Davidson to his fans. He’s more mature, though also more jaded than the last time they met him. “It used to be so clear to me / there was no one holier than thee / now this is a different time and place,” he laments on the opening track, supported by guitar, standup bass and clapping. Light horns whisper in the background, occasionally surfacing to punctuate the singer’s declarations that his world has darkened. But the record tumbles downhill from here.
Most of the songs are, frankly, odd. Davidson foreshadows a godforsaken world in “The Dogs Howl, The Caravan Moves On.” This could be an entrancing Bob Dylan-like tale, but the singer relies solely on his weak and quiet lower register, creating something from a cheap Halloween soundtrack. Listeners are thematically whacked over the head in “Abraham,” due to repetitive chain-ringing, eerie “ooooohs” and horn solos that feel out of place.
Moreover, the producer apparently fell asleep during some tracks because the instruments’ levels all sound equal, which blurs his sound. The product, then, is uneasy competition between percussion and guitar throughout. Cohesion is the last word to describe Silvertooth. Davidson’s lyrics prove his talent; he just needs a little less wild Chris McCandless on his next project.