If you’ve ever listened to The Danielson Famile or Daniel Smith and thought to yourself, “Surely this music must have sprung up from the earth itself,” you would be wrong. There are two people who can claim more credit than any others on earth for creating The Danielson Famile – Lenny and Marian Smith, their parents.
Yes it’s true. Despite what you may have thought, they’re humans like the rest of us.
Danielson is one of my favorite bands. If you don’t know why, rent or buy Danielson: a Family Movie. The short of it is that, in the midst of a zillion copycat bands, they’re doing things completely differently. Their music is totally weird and faithful to the artsy, indie side of things. But they also are very open and up-front about being Christians who love God. I love it. I wish more bands would be so bold to experiment with the music and talk about their beliefs (Christian or otherwise).
But this is not a post about Danielson. I want to talk about the Famile’s dad, Lenny Smith, one of the most amazing and under-appreciated songwriters in the world today.
Besides writing and recording his own material, publishing a number of artists through New Jerusalem Music, leading worship, and being a husband, father, and grandfather, Lenny has taught English Literature and Latin, run his own home remodeling business for over 20 years, and gained Pope John Paul II as a major fan. He’s written hundreds of songs, yet you can only buy one album so far (Deep Calls to Deep), he’s only got 61 friends on his MySpace, and you probably know, at max, one song he’s written (“Our God Reigns”).
Musically, you’ll have a hard time finding stuff like Lenny Smith’s. He’s got an acoustic, alt-folk sound mixed with some classic rock-n-roll and enough weird, bizarre, quirky stuff to keep you wondering how you should classify it all. The music is catchy, fun, and quirky. Even when he ventures into depressing songs like “This Is The End of the World” you’ll feel somewhat peaceful and content.
At first listen, you may not get his music. It can come across a little too quirky and overly happy, almost like those folk artists who play for kids at the library. Press through, though, and you’ll find some great stuff.
I really do like his unique music style, but Lenny’s writing is one of my favorite aspects of his songs. Most (maybe all) of his songs are worship focused. They’re solidly rooted in Scripture. And they’re unique. You won’t catch Lenny using any of the commonly over-used “Christian worship phrases.” He’s got an amazing ability to take a common worship theme, boil it down to it’s basics, and then rephrase it in a way that is both clever, catchy, and simple to grab ahold of.
The songs are deceptively easy to understand. On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself listening to a Lenny Smith song, thinking I understand what he’s going for, when all of a sudden I pick up another shade of meaning, or another angle that I hadn’t noticed before. On first glance, the songs can seem very simple and straightforward, but there are a lot of layers going on. Like onions. And ogres.
Anyway, I’ve got some downloads for you today like normal, but be sure to head over here to get his whole Deep Calls to Deep album for free. I just found this site the other day… a few months after I’d already paid for the album. But you don’t have to make that same mistake.
While you’re at it, too, you should definitely check out his bio on Sounds Familyre Records and his MySpace page. I’d love to go into all the details of his life here, but you should read it for yourself. The guy is a hilarious writer.
That’s all I have time for today, but I think you’ll enjoy these two songs:
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week