Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Halfway to a Threeway:

Here we are at the midpoint of 2004, and I have assembled a short list of my favorite soundz to date, which will be posted in five parts:

The First

Devendra Banhart Rejoicing in the Hands (Young God) I really dig DB's debut, but this is his great soul-bearing statement, one of those rare instances when a performer says "I'm almost done recording my new album, and it's a LOT better than the last one," and actually means it. These 16 tracks traverse the lonesome heart of America with the same familial longing of a Mississippi John Hurt (check out "This is the Way") and explore abstract song stories and ambitious structures in a way that's probably more indebted to Fred Neil, yet passed through the idiosyncratic jazz/soul filter of a Nina Simone. There's a hint of Leonard Cohen in the Spanish tinged acoustic guitar of "A Sight To Behold," a tad of Fahey in the short sweet solo instrumental, "Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry" and even a bit of Vashti Bunyan on the title track--she lends her considerable vocal talents.

But all in all it's Devendra in all his unique sun-kissed glory singing in everything from frilly falsetto to heart-aching Espanol. There is depth here, but it's combined with the familiarity of a very old friend (albeit one you've never met before) and delivered in a voice I've never heard before. Could he truly be "The One"?

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