Three Lobed Recordings
One of the perils of music criticism (other than having to deposit all those freakin’ checks…ha!) is discovering new music. I got Clipper Ship by Wooden Wand a few months ago, and it was utterly bewitching, to the point that I ended up getting 2 or 3 more releases from him (Wooden Wand is actually James Jackson Toth) because I couldn’t stop listening. And considering that he has over 30 releases under the name I don’t think I’ll be sated anytime soon.
Toth has done everything from “freak folk” to free jazz, outlaw country and more, and on Clipper Ship he tends to lower the volume, relaying on his soft voice and delicate acoustic guitar, such as on the opener, “School’s Out”. Think a more mainstream Devendra Banhart or a reflective Neil Young mood, with the pedal steel of Luke Schneider accenting spare moments of sound. “Sacrificial” follows, with more than a hint of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun”, quite lovely.
“Mexican Coke” (seemingly about the soft drink…) is a host of quiet revelations, with the mandolin and giumbre (a Middle Eastern lute) of Jim Becker aligning with percussion from Wilco’s Glenn Kotche and additional guitar from James Elkington – “You can’t stockpile time…” “Mallow T’Ward the River” reminds you of the great English folk guitarist Michael Chapman, although not as gloomy has his work sometimes gets. The title cut, with haunting cello from Seth Murphy sounds dreamlike and ethereal, a complete bouquet of sounds. Wooden Wand and James Toth has given much on Clipper Ship, a tonal feast of quiet moments that speak volumes. I long to hear more. So will you.