I’ve written before at much greater length about why I find Daniel Smith and his family act so fascinating: his expressions of Christian spiritual revelation are so startling, playful, and consistently, inventively weird that it’s easier to believe in their sincerity than that of more conventional testimonials, which just sound overly Sunday-schooled. Really, if God whispers in your ear, is there any reason to think he’d sound anything like Michael W. Smith? And when you reply, must you bore Him to tears? That can cause flooding. On his new full-length, Ships (Secretly Canadian), Daniel enlists an all-star lineup of collaborators–including Sufjan Stevens, Why?, and Deerhoof–to help him prune some of the wildest growths in his garden of verses into strikingly orderly rows. The result is a collection of pure gold tunes that’d be hits in a better world, like the beautifully evocative “Did I Step on Your Trumpet?” There’s also a documentary currently on the festival circuit called Danielson: A Family Movie, which traces the development of Smith’s music from an art-school thesis project into a lifework. It’s tentatively scheduled to have its local premiere at the Chicago Underground Film Festival in August. Detholz! opens. Thu 5/25, 8 PM, Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N. Broadway, 773-472-3492, $10 in advance, $12 at the door. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stephanie Black.