Teeth Measure the Need

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Georgia's Clemente really makes an impression with Teeth Measure the Need, its first album to feature a fleshed-out lineup and widespread release. Pedal steel, cello, and viola add rich, velvety color to Jefrey Siler's Southern gothic stories; there are acoustic guitars too, and vibes, and twinges of electric piano and electric guitar. In the louder moments -- "Bring Your Sore Throat," "Raising," or "Familiar" -- Clemente can suggest the yearn and clatter of Will Johnson and Centro-Matic; other times, it's American Music Club's literate, highly evocative sound that comes to mind. Like these stylistic touchstones, Clemente's songs are good at establishing a tangible mood. In "Gradually," Jeff Moore's pedal steel isn't a device to say "Ladies and gentlemen," No, it swells with real gravity, shimmering in the corners of the rooms and lives Siler is singing about, aching along with his cracking voice as the relationship seems to dissolve. "Let Go of My Hand" is a nice lament driven by the drums of Buffy Davis and Siler's resigned statement, "Maybe you weren't meant to live in this city"; "Hallway Stay Quiet" plays a fiddle off the pedal steel, and sways in refracted stillness like closing time at the VFW hall. Teeth Measure the Need's material can blend into a long Americana ramble. But it's a strong record for that same reason, since Siler's songs have such a pungent, descriptive sense of place. With a deep and varied instrumental lineup, Clemente's sound is warmly organic, and as tactile as a novel.

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