Danielson Famile

Tri-Danielson, Vol. 1 (Alpha)

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Beginning with the family's repeated chant of "Tri-Danielson," followed by a round of hooting and applause, the Danielson Famile's third LP is the one that sees them at their strongest. This is their brightest collection of songs so far, and it's definitely the album to start with. Beginning with "Southern Paws" -- a simple acoustic melody with Daniel Smith and harmonies courtesy of sisters Megan and Rachel -- it's apparent that the group has finally become comfortable enough to make the music they were on the verge of with 1997's Tell Another Joke at the Ol' Choppin' Block. "Rubbernecker" takes a sort of quirky, straight rhythm and punches it up with Wurlitzer effects and horns, while Daniel Smith sings about people with "hungry eyes," "homemade thighs," and "greasy talk." In the end, it sounds like nothing else and is certainly one of the tracks that will either endear you to or steer you away from the band. The carnival comparisons begin with this track, as do their ties to soul music. Near the end of the song, the band turns the track briefly into Don Covay's "Chain of Fools" and, oddly enough, it's convincing. Other songs add banjo amidst all the pianos, and acoustic guitars amid all the tinkling keyboards. Daniel finds poetry in his spiritual affirmations, crying out "nourishment will come from the many-breasted one" and "the sooner we become is the sooner we be one." All this and hymns, too. "Between the Lines of the Scout Signs" is the sound of a man possessed -- possessed by the idea of taking the power away from the middle finger. "Release the social burden," he says, and "shake hands with that middle finger." However you might feel about the lyrical content, there's no doubting his zeal and there's certainly no doubting the effective, stripped-down punch of the music. Not content to take down the middle finger, the Danielson Family speak out on "Pottymouth" about, yes, swearing. The song works as a skit between the sisters as they discuss a date from the night before, who not only swore at every opportunity, but also leaned in for a kiss at the end of the evening. The music keeps the conversation at bay until the final moments, when Daniel himself comes in, shouting out "zip up that pottymouth!" Imagine an after-school special with music done by indie rock gypsies. If that's not enough, the band throws in a (somewhat) straightforward cover of Ken Nordine's "Flesh."

blue highlight denotes track pick