SG Goodman: Teeth Marks Album Review

The dizzying opener “Teeth Marks” mentions physical scars, as the title suggests. But it’s more about the lasting mental wounds left by the lover you never respected, the one who never even tried to “see things my way.” These songs are about the communities and relationships we think we built – and the damage they leave when the facade breaks.

It’s tempting with Dental impressions get lost in logocentrism, get so absorbed in the stories that you don’t notice how musical these songs are. Goodman always gets her hook, no matter how desperate the story is. And compared to much southern indie rock, there is a dizzying diversity in the range of inspirations and references. “The Heart of It” shimmers like REM, then arches like Band of Horses. “All My Love Is Coming Back to Me” has the nervous thump of Lee Bains’ bands or even Archers of Loaf, a feel enhanced by an endless vibrato borrowed from Sleater-Kinney. The solo lament of “If You Were Someone I Loved” hurts like the old gospel of Ralph Stanley, while the motivational finale “Keeper of the Time” swings like Otis Redding until she rides out on a guitar jam that feels a bit like a Skynyrd -crescendo.

Remarkably, this suggests little pastiche or collage. Goodman has spent decades synthesizing Southern music into a unique vision, cohesive even as the sounds shift. Her small but mighty set of employees helps. Kyle Spence – now a member of Kurt Vile’s Violators, formerly of the weirdo Georgia metal demigods Harvey Milk – provides the perfect drift for the amorous “When You Say It”, beautifully framed by the crystal clear piano of Athens Jojo Glidewell and the lambent pedal steal from Luke Schneider of Nashville. And on several tracks, Goodman and his longtime collaborator Matthew David Rowan play almost everything, suggesting how complete Goodman’s concept was from the start.

One of the best moments on Goodman’s 2020 debut, Old fashioned feeling, came in the title track, a combative song about people who speak badly or leave the South. “The southern state is a condition, that’s true,” Goodman said. “Stay close and work your way through.” It was a protest song to make the place Goodman still mentions better. It was also honest about how backwards that house can feel—a diet of “gas station goodies,” as she put it, and the deafening sound of a “coal train fireworks.”

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