- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 May
- Ship the Majestic Suffix
- Cast It at the Setting Sail
- Bloodbook on the Halfshell
- Did I Step on Your Trumpet
- When It Comes to You I'm Lazy
- Two Sitting Ducks
- My Lion Sleeps Tonight
- Kids Pushing Kids
- Time That Bald Sexton
- He Who Flattened Your Flame Is Getting Torched
- Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up
The mounting popularity and critical acclaim of Sufjan Stevens in the last year has helped pave the way for other alternative folk and "freak folk" acts to gain acceptance, so it's only fitting that Danielson (formerly Danielson Famile) should now find greater exposure as the group that helped birth Stevens' career. At the creative core is Daniel Smith, surrounded by an ever-changing talent pool of family and friends.
For those who think Stevens is too weird, Danielson is synonymous with "cult following" and "acquired taste." Both share a reputation for goofy costumes onstage and convention defying arrangements that mesh acoustic guitars and drums with all manner of horns, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Adding to Danielson's mystique is Smith's strained vocal quality, which sometimes recalls early Peter Gabriel and Mickey Mouse; his screechy falsetto in "Bloodbook on the Halfshell" is enough to try anyone's patience.
It's a sound that's equally brilliant and insane—children's music as recorded by Stevens, Brian Wilson, Polyphonic Spree, Frank Zappa, Super Furry Animals, and Captain Beefheart. I can't help but laugh and agree with the review that describes
Still, oddly enough,
It's also ironic that some are calling Danielson a Christian band that's easier for non-believers to embrace, even though at times they wear their faith as prominently as the hearts on the sleeves of their costumes. The bizarrely freeform "My Lion Sleeps Tonight" reenacts the parable of the Prodigal Son, while the rambling epic confessional "Kids Pushing Kids" quotes Mark 10:13-15 in noting how difficult it can be to love others. "Cast It at the Setting Sail" addresses the First Commandment and uses the album's nautical imagery as a metaphor for casting aside sinful burdens. And "Did I Step on Your Trumpet" seems to address tensions between two friends of differing beliefs: "Pleasing people is so predictable/We love you now then stab you/How many times I obsess and am making a mess, failing to impress you in all that I can't do."
I haven't the slightest idea how to recommend an album like this. It'll never be widely embraced, and Smith himself has said that he's "too weird for the Christians and too Christian for the weirdos." But some are able to look past the obvious strangeness and recognize