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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second dip into surreal under-recording, still enchanting..., 27 Jun. 2003
This review is from: The Black Babies (Audio CD)
Banhart raised a few eyebrows upon the release of his "Oh Me Oh My" full length last year. It showed an immense talent singing songs onto, at best, a broken 4-track recorder and, at worst, an answer machine. Here is his second release, "The Black Babies" EP, and it is basically more of the same - it gives the same indication of greatness but no development from the stance that so enchanted me all those months ago.
With a couple of tracks from the previous album included on the 8 tracks here, it may hint at being more for collectors than a real introduction to the man. But even so it is still an inspiring collection of songs, "Bluebird" is typical Banhart, sounding slightly lethargic and slow whilst churning out some frankly bizarre lyrical bombs - "My baby is a bluebird....your feathers want to tickle me". Similarly, "Surgery I Stole" starts off in the same vein but develops into a stronger, more intense middle part where Banhart declares "The toothbrush is black, that's the place where you're at". Its strange that these seemingly meaningless words have some sort of emotional connotation to them.
This is the skill which Banhart benefits from most, his voice is as expressive as a Bolan or a Bowie, and he uses it to full effect giving the listener an incongruous display of feeling. This is aided by Banhart's advanced guitar skills, sometimes sounding even Drakeian in his approach. It is this combination of skills which makes stand-out track "Lagoon" as good as it is. The flowing guitar riffs between verses and his impassioned phrase "never been to Minnesota, still I'd love to live in Maine, never been to Salamanca, still I'd love to live in Spain" all provide great highlights.
The two tracks taken from his previous album are also highlights "Cosmos and Demos" and "The Charles C. Leary" are Banhart at his bewitching best, outlining a dream-like story where nothing is as it seems and things never go where you would quite expect. Truly brilliant.
An enchanting talent is still producing the goods. Once again though the question is what will happen when he goes into a studio and has all these new toys to play with? Will he lose the naive brilliance or become something even more special? Time will tell but for now let's enjoy the anticipation.
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The Black Babies
The Black Babies by Devendra Banhart (Audio CD - 2003)
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