Review Summary: "Who is she?/ I am the river and I will take you to the sea./ And we got by/ Floating, in the water singing hallelujah/Waiting, on the lord/To bring us back home./You left us too soon/And I, I know what you'll do."
The Snake The Cross The Crown is Franklin Sammons on guitar and vocals, William Sammons on piano, keyboard, and vocals, Kevin Jones on guitar and vocals, Mark Fate on drums, and Nate Higley on bass.
The roots of America. The ability to not give a damn about anything, and just go. Cornfields and summer evenings with your friends slugging down drinks and swapping stories around campfires which hold the warmth of the bonds you have with each other and the fires that burn within each of you, willing you to make your own decisions and be your own person. This same heat escaping the bar on the corner of 56th and Willow as you enter and are instantaneously awash in the sound emanating from the saxophonist’s instrument, a welcome change to the biting cold you were feeling only moments before. Finding a table in the corner, you cut through the smoke, sit down, and relax to the restoring power of music this hardworking musician has been granted. With the descriptions of the scenarios I have described, I have hoped to transfer a small piece, however light, of the emotions this album exudes.
Aptly named, Cotton Teeth is the second album released by Indie/ Americana band The Snake The Cross The Crown. When you really think about it, cotton has always been something rich within the American culture. At first there were plantations with slaves that picked all of the cotton. Then, once slavery was outlawed, other means were resorted to in order to pick it. If we fastforward a few years, we see that there are today hardworking Americans everywhere that participate in tedious jobs like using machines to grow and harvest cotton. This album is for them. Anyone who has ever felt the overwhelming ambition to make anything of themselves can relate to this album, because this album comes straight from the heart of America to deliver a wallop of intelligent and angelic tunes that pack a punch.
The simplicity of the music makes it the perfect album to chill to. While the songs by no means sound alike, they still have that warm feeling to them that wraps you tight and holds your attention, like a deep conversation with your best friend. It features Franklin Sammons’ gorgeous voice which is added onto in some portions with harmonizing by his bandmates in songs such as “Behold the River”, for example. Although it is not a voice you probably haven’t heard before, it manages to work remarkably well for the music in the sense that it gives the entire album a homey feel. The instruments used from track to track are also quite selective, holding out on some songs while bringing to the forefront all of the musical capabilities of the band, such as in the opener “Cakewalk”.
The nature of the songs on the album is quite varied, as suggested by the instrumentals. There are the slower songs such as “Electronic Dream Plant” and “Behold the River” which both have their moments where they feel as if they could be a Country song. This is by no means a bad thing, and instead gives the album a large amount of track by track variety which keeps things mixed up just enough to keep you interested. “Behold The River” also has a gospel tinge to it at points, and incorporates an accompaniment part by an unnamed guest vocalist that exuberates the emotion of a man and a woman, which helps it to be one of my favorite tracks on the album because of its reserved beauty. Another tune that manages to have a revered sense of beauty about it is the song "Floating In and Out", which contains some of the best lyrics from the album, "So very very lightly on the strings of what we are/ There is a hollow yellow yelling at the stars tonight./While feuding fading fury sunk in deeply to the bone/As if they'd tried to figure out what they would like to try."
which represent the themes found on the album quite nicely. "Maps" is another one of these songs which details the relationships a man has been blessed to have throughout his life with lyrics that are as close to poetry as possible, and still retains the same rustic nostalgia that the rest of the album bathes in.
Other songs are more upbeat like “Back To The Helicopter” and "The Great American Smokeout" which both have a sort of swing feel to them, the latter being a song that boasts astonishing harmonizations and a chorus that begs you to learn the words and sing along with every fiber of your being.
The intricacies produced from this album after repeated listens add even more to the album than one would expect, giving it a very high replay value. Cotton Teeth
is an excellent mood album, giving us a glimpse of all the different feelings of freedom from sea to shining sea (to quote a different song). We can all hope that someday soon the snow will clear up and everyone can go outside and enjoy life, but until then you can probably find me inside under a heat lamp slowly sipping lemonade and basking in the glowing warmth I get from listening to Cotton Mouth