Clipper Ship

by Wooden Wand

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Was Ist Das?
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Was Ist Das? One of the albums of the year. Beautiful, mesmerizing and wise. Favorite track: Sacrificial.
muellermj76
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muellermj76 A fantastic sound.

Pastoral and ethereal, like mid-70's Neil Young. Puts me in mind of his strange, dreamlike epic, 'Will to Love', with a healthy dollop of David Crosby's spirit-animal balladry. A lot of lyrical twists and turns, and some guitar sounds as pure as a mountain stream in winter.

Great to hear an album that feels connected to the great tradition of American 'Americana' albums, but offers more than slavish imitation.

Sit on the step with a beer and a friend, and have a listen. Favorite track: School's Out.
finemlcom
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finemlcom Clipper Ship is a fantastic album. My favorite song, Sacrificial is absolutely perfect. The vocals are spot on, and the finger style guitar with the bass and melody lines moving around are a joy to behold. The physical recording is lush. The entire album is one of those records that stays with you, in the best way possible. Favorite track: Sacrificial.
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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Wooden Wand's Clipper Ship is pressed on 140 gram Dutch black vinyl by Record Industry and housed within a full color gatefold jacket. It was mastered by Patrick Klem. Clipper Ship will be released on May 5, 2017. Also look for Wooden Wand dates this year all around the US and in Europe.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Clipper Ship via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Wooden Wand's Clipper Ship was mastered by Patrick Klem. Clipper Ship will be released on May 5, 2017. Also look for Wooden Wand dates this year all around the US and in Europe.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Clipper Ship via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 2 days

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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  • Full Digital Discography

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Clipper Ship, Daniel Bachman [2016], Jack Rose, I Do Play Rock and Roll, Dr. Ragtime & His Pals, Blues From WHAT, Parallelogram, Parallelogram, and 86 more. , and , .

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about

Chickens were puzzling to early chemists and remain so. Despite a diet low in calcium, eggs laid by chickens contain a huge amount of calcium. Chickens, in that sense, are the only alchemists with proof that they are able to transmute an element; Wooden Wand’s 'Clipper Ship' album reminds me of that fowl alchemy, where the sum of songs’ parts add up to some impossible, elegant germination that cannot be reduced.

Drones and lush arpeggiated codas spin out in concentric fractal patterns; the finger picking of Kentucky’s own Nathan Salsburg on “Sacrifical” layers and weaves like harmonocist Hans Kayser described the octaval correspondences between the shapes of plants and musical notes. The hopeful acoustic line ascends, and repeats; the words reference modern master Trinie Dalton’s short story Scarlet Gilia, calling forth its volcanoes, bare feet, blood and love. The three part “Mallow T’ward the River” begins like a civil war ballad, then segues into a funky bass breakdown, and ends with Glenn Kotche’s sparse percussion that at turns sounds like a jump rope slapping the ground or a brush made of a thicket of grass: maybe mallow grass. It is surprising, hypnotic and stubborn. On this record a certain restless swagger or arrogance I have always loved in James Toth’s songwriting is changed; there is something introverted and peaceful. In “One Can Only Love,” a Yardbirds’ “White Summer”-style raga meets Toth’s Yaweh- John Donne-Don Juan lyrics; the narrator here is godlike, but humble, can learn, is loving. ‘You taught me to find peace / where there is no grace.’ Old Testament Toth is becoming New Testament Toth.

On 'Clipper Ship', the images, though they seem like they’ve always been there, still shock: like finding a cave in the woods behind your house. Phrases like: ‘the sun’s not going down/the sun’s just being shy/the clouds look heavy/like they’re duct taped to the sky’ have an erstwhile American dignity, like John O’Hara could have written them. They are not just words the songs are serving, however; neither one would resonate accurately without the other. Toth is hard to pin down as a vocalist; his voice is a compelling mix of channels: the intimacy of Pearls Before Swine, the cajoling of Judy Roderick, and the sly, gentle tone of Kevin Ayers. He and Ayers share that quality of more than one voice moving through their throats, like the wind touching a series of chimes in one breath.

In “Mexican Coke,” the narrator states, ‘You ask me why I carry cash around with me all the time,’ a dirty, old tech-- like he is answering a certain kind of modern listener: why the carefully considered words, why the dirty old tech of folk song and guitar chords? He doesn’t reference privacy, or fondness for a ‘simpler’ time. In “Mexican Coke” the value of the old object is relative to the currency that pays for the things of its time. Resale value is not nostalgia; the worth of the old thing is relative to the new thing it can bring. Like the forked stick of a dowser, acoustic guitar and gentle arrangements find those thoughts and hums that can only be caught by arcane tools, songs that breathe with the previous songs and breaths that built them, the format a cradle for the gifts of the collector. That just might be worth a cool grand to the right ears. James Toth is an obsessive, of words and melody, of records and books, and if he trawls through enough dusty silverfish riddles, old tunes, rusted twists of iron, a rare thing is found and transmuted into something new.

[Coda: Listening to this record today, and listening to it 2 weeks ago are completely different experiences. Now I hear a foreboding: an attempt at finding solace rather than solace. America feels foreign to me for the first time. Art in general feels frivolous; I have to believe records, books and work of the human imagination matter now more than ever. This is a good one.]

--Elisa Ambrogio, November 2016

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In a world of guitar players, James “Wooden Wand” Toth remains first and foremost a songwriter and lyricist. "Clipper Ship", however, presents a break in tradition: in attempting to emancipate himself from old habits, Toth wrote most of the songs on "Clipper Ship" 'music first,' adding lyrics later, a reversal of the tried and true method that has made him one of the most prolific and respected songwriters of his generation. The result is the most democratically-conceived, multi-layered, and musically sophisticated album in the vast Wooden Wand discography.

"Clipper Ship" is the first proper full-length Wooden Wand album since 2014. Performers include Darin Gray (On Fillmore, Dazzling Killmen, Jim O’Rourke, Tweedy, William Tyler, etc), Ryan Norris (Coupler, Lambchop), Glenn Kotche (On Fillmore, Wilco), Jim Becker (Califone, Iron & Wine), Nathan Salsburg (Joan Shelley), Kyle Hamlett (Lylas), Josh Wright & Seth Murphy (Bear Medicine), Luke Schneider (Margo Price, JEFF The Brotherhood, Natural Child, William Tyler, etc), Zak Riles (Watter, Grails), and Jim Elkington (Tweedy, Horse’s Ha, Richard Thompson, Steve Gunn).

credits

released May 5, 2017

All songs by James Toth (Evil Leaper Music BMI) except “Mood Indica (reprise)” by James Toth (Evil Leaper Music BMI) and Zak Riles (Watter Music, ASCAP)

Mastered by Patrick Klem
Photos by Amelia Courthouse
Layout and Design by Scott Caligan

The song “Sacrificial” was inspired in part by Trinie Dalton’s short story “Scarlet Gilia,” from her book Baby Geisha

Thanks: Cory Rayborn, Jerry DeCicca, Joseph Carver, Andrew Stith, Aaron Rosenblum, Elisa Ambrogio, Ben Chasny, Nathan Walker, Tim & Elizabeth Bracy, Ringo, Scott Caligan, Doc Feldman, Cecilia Wright, Josh Doss, Mia Krout, Keith Wood, Trinie Dalton, Owen King, Black Iris, Roman Hutchison, Liam Cunningham, Will Burchard, Nick Mitchell, The Chapman Family (especially Ava), and the Reyes Family (especially Heyd)

For Leah

this is TLR-123

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Three Lobed Recordings Jamestown, North Carolina

Three Lobed Recordings is a boutique record label that specializes in small print-run releases that cover all flavors of psychedelia. The label was started in 2000 and is largely operated by cats.

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Track Name: School's Out
Let me swim and keep on swimming
Bordered by two beginnings
Because the waves between are life
They live between an unknown darkness
And another unknown darkness

Volcano, spare our only daughter
She was not made to be a martyr
And the way your lava flows
It beckons like a moon so bright
We mistake it for first light

The snow is now falling
Now school can begin
The snow has all melted
And school’s out again
Track Name: Sacrificial
A barefoot man led me up the mountainside
With every step he left a trail of pain behind
He said “If you can’t pay, you musn’t climb—
This rock asks nothing but it knows your blood from mine.”

The sun’s not going down, the sun’s just being shy
The clouds look heavy like they’re duct-taped to the sky
But it won’t rain and I know why:
No one’s dancing, no one’s praying, no one bleeds and no one cries
Sacrificial

At the crosswalk I lost a flip-flop in the street
Kicked off the other and walked the distance in bare feet
Over sharp terrain and dreadful heat
I left this blood for you so you might favor me next time we meet
Sacrificial
Track Name: Mexican Coke
You ask me why I carry cash around with me all the time—
Don’t you see all these “Yard Sale” signs?
When I flip this first edition for a cool grand
Then maybe you’ll understand

Where there’s a will, there are ways
So take this five-dollar bill
And go and buy yourself a Mexican Coke with the change

There’s no using all the unused hours down the line
You can’t stockpile time
What has the night to do with sleep
When there are promises to keep?

Remember all that you pass
Make the first thing the last
The innocent get to dream, the rest of us crash

If you leave the doors open so the flies can escape
You’re just inviting the rattlesnakes!
We can always do more harm than good
Our best intentions misunderstood

Whether we drink from the stream
Or find it’s just a mirage
Bet you a Mexican Coke it comes out in the wash

--For Simon Joyner--
Track Name: Mallow T'ward the River
Mallow t’ward the river passing Perry on the way
When you see that water that’s where Perry’s ashes lay
Perry was my uncle and his heart was black and cold
He cheated many women and he murdered men for gold

“Uncle, oh dear uncle, is there nothing that you fear?
The women plot their vengeance and the men are drawing near.”
“Nephew—silly nephew!—you are such a foolish one.
I’ll be here tomorrow, same as river, same as sun.”

Soon my wicked uncle was half deaf and mostly blind
His body shrank and withered like the skin snakes leave behind
When they came upon him they beat uncle like a beast
The river changed direction and the sun set in the East

We tried to bury uncle but the Earth refused the bones
Each time we started digging we would always strike a stone
Mallow t’ward the river passing Perry on the way
When you see that water that’s where uncle’s ashes lay
Track Name: One Can Only Love
I knew you from birth
I knew you from birth
I knew you from birth, when our tears dampened the Earth
I knew you all along
I knew you all along
I knew you all along, you were in all my favorite songs

You made me feel at home in a lonesome place

I knew you would be mine
I knew you would be mine
I knew you would be mine, it was only a matter of time
Beneath a nickel moon
Beneath a nickel moon
Beneath a nickel moon the crickets sang all afternoon

You taught me to find peace where there is no grace

One can’t just believe
One can’t just believe
One can’t just believe, there must be something more achieved
One can’t just believe
One can’t just believe
One can’t just believe, there must be something more achieved

But one can only love, one can only love
One can only love
Track Name: Clipper Ship
Clipper ship
Like a falcon: steady strong and swift
Hurtling past
With a painted moonsail on the mast

Peering out
Could it be the famous Flying Cloud?

Clipper ship
Cracking through the dawn like a horsewhip
Built for speed
It tracks an ancient sky that cracks and bleeds

But can’t prevail
With icicles and shadow on its trail