Quavery-voiced New Jerseyan Daniel Smith may have a singular vision, but he plays well with others. Ships, his new disc for the Secretly Canadian imprint, finds him in the company of artists with whom he's worked (or wanted to work) over the course of a career that's eccentric even by cult-artist standards; the sprawling cast includes Sufjan Stevens and members of Deerhoof. Yet rather than stand out as individuals, these players form a winning support crew devoted to bringing Smith's music to life in all its twisted glory, and they more than accomplish their mission. Smith can play it (relatively) straight, as he demonstrates on the affable love song/excuse "When It Comes to You I'm Lazy." Still, he's at his best when unleashing his childlike sense of delight -- a characteristic that links the charmingly bizarre "Did I Step on Your Trumpet" and "Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up," an apparent salute to the Ships passengers who sailed with him. There's no telling who'll be on board when Danielson performs alongside Woven Hand and the Wheel, but a good time should be had by all.
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