California-born singer-songwriter Kelli Scarr has several stories up her sleeve. Sheâ€™s explored electronica, supplied guest vocals to Mobyâ€™s 2009 album, Wait for Me, and sang as part of j.viewz, the brainchild of Brooklyn-based producer, Jonathan Dagan. With her solo effort, Dangling Teeth, Scarr decidedly departs from her past to craft a new chapter â€“ one that is, at once, direct and subtle, timid and twangy, yearning and restrained.
Scarrâ€™s title track opens her solo trek. â€œDangling Teeth,â€ though morbid-sounding, is more Western than horror: The music buzzes and twangs, providing a fitting stage for Scarrâ€™s saccharine vocals â€“ a mix of hipster darling, Zooey Deschanel, and Grammy favorite, Norah Jones. Those very vocals, though, try on a too-forced twang in the regret-tinged second track, â€œYou Could Be So Great.â€
That theme bleeds into the middle of Scarrâ€™s disc. A string of stripped- and watered-down tracks takes precious space. From subtle and stumbling (â€œThank Youâ€) to hesitant and slow-coming (â€œTroubleâ€), Scarrâ€™s latter half tiptoes around what it might have been.
â€œOur Joyâ€ gives a bit of bluegrass and a heavy, yearning chorus. Almost-closer â€œIt Ainâ€™t Meâ€ brings a welcome sense of variety, with Scarrâ€™s soft and strong sides finally reconciling. Itâ€™s an apt denouement to Scarrâ€™s story.
Dangling Teeth is out now on Silence Breaks Records.