“Are my parents proud of me?” wonders Douglas Dare on the third track of Milkteeth. It is a question that prevails on the record as he revisits his childhood with bittersweet nostalgia. Growing up as the youngest of a large family on a farm in rural Dorset, Dare never felt like he fit in. Now an adult, and free, he feels compelled to reconnect with his younger self; to give him permission.
“Brother, cousin, won’t play with me,” he laments on ‘Silly Games’, and there is a strange intimacy to the childlike words on the adult man’s lips. He conjures characters like ghosts; family members and friends. On ‘Where Ever You Are’ he addresses an old friend whom his mother had loved “as one of her own”, wondering how someone who had meant so much could be lost to him.
The record is dotted with soft solo piano interludes cushioned by the use of pedal. ‘The Stairwell’ meanders with the naive curiosity of an infant. An image comes to mind of the small child exploring his rural home, no company but his imagination; Dare’s musicality is almost more transporting than the references in his lyrics.
Elegant and delicately layered, Milkteeth feels grandiose despite its minimalism, like a solo dancer performing an elaborate piece of movement. It acknowledges that no matter how far we have come, how much we have grown, our most childish fears are often with us for life. It feels honest, organic, and will undoubtedly resonate with anyone who has ever felt strange, or shy, or small.