James Jackson Toth (AKA Wooden Wand) gets plenty of praise for his eccentrically evocative lyrics. But on Clipper Ship, his latest album for the mighty Three Lobed Records, it’s the sound that draws you in.
Toth has gathered a stellar lineup of collaborators here, resulting in one of the most sonically pleasing efforts of his wide-ranging oeuvre. Guitarist Nathan Salsburg delivers a pristine, Nic Jones-style accompaniment for the lovely “Sacrificial.” Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, bassist Darin Gray, Califone‘s Jim Becker and ace sideman James Elkington (Tweedy, Steve Gunn, Eleventh Dream Day, many more) show up for the beguiling backwoods ramble “Mallow T’ward the River,” which shifts unexpectedly to an off-kilter rhythm towards the end, pulling the listener into parts unknown. And Toth, Salsburg and Grails’ Zak Riles conjure up a pastoral Popol Vuh vibe on the totally gorgeous song suite, “One Can Only Love.”
Check’em out also on NPR’s All Songs Considered.