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on 25 October 2007
I like this album - it is elegantly put together, and has an enjoyable range of styles within it. I take what the other reviewer said; it definitely grows on you with a few listens.

Nevertheless, I still find myself pining for the type of stuff we had on Rejoicing in the Hands or Nino Rojo: very stripped-down songs, often just a voice and an instrument, where you could appreciate the achievement of making so much out of so little. While there is nothing much to complain about on this album, the increased production values, budget, and number of performers, means there is not much of this simple music to be enjoyed.

I'm slightly alarmed that I'm sounding like those grumpy folkies who cried 'Judas' when Dylan picked up an electric guitar, but as much as I enjoy the new stuff, it still jars a little - I keep waiting for a 'Will is my friend', and it just isn't there.

Basically, if this was a new artist/band I would probably have given it a higher rating, but because of my attachment to the earlier albums, I can't enjoy it quite as much as I'd like.
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2007
I became interested in investigating Devendra Banhart when I read that Michael Gira (of Swans) had "discovered" him and put out his first album. Then his name was mentioned here, on Amazon, in the same breath as Frank Zappa and Led Zeppelin. He's made a few albums already so I'm a bit late on the scene but anyway, what to make of it? From what I've read this is his most ambitious album so far, previous ones being more rooted in Banhart's admittedly leftfield take on folk-rock. This album rolls all right, it doesn't exactly rock. More accurately, it unfolds, in a series of dreamy episodes. There are Latin elements in places (and some lyrics in Spanish), there are bluesy elements elsewhere. On first listening it sounds a bit unfocused, and it probably is, but it takes better shape after a couple more listens and is rather good, in a laid back I-don't-care-about-daytime-radio-airplay kind of way. A smoking slow burner.
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on 26 September 2007
It's been a long time since I felt like this about a new release. Mostly you pretty much know what to expect when you first hear a new album from someone you've grown to love and here's the twist....sometimes, just sometimes, you take a listen and you're not sure...you're not comfortable...it's not what you expected...is it as good as you thought it might be?...doesn't sound like it...sounds kind of strange...oh dear!...try again, give each track a 2nd listen...still uncomfortable, but that bit sounds pretty good...hold on, I like that bit as well....and is that Vashti Bunyan singing?....still not sure....listen again....wow, here's another bit that sounds great and I'd not noticed that guitar before, still not sure...listen again... You get the picture, slowly but surely this gets better and better. Might take a few listens but this is classic DB and co. Takes me back (showing my age now) to how I felt listening to the Incredible String Band for the first time...Keep listening, there are gems in here.
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on 7 November 2007
I read a recent review in a magazine that criticised 'Smokey...' for being a jack of all trades but master of none. It's true: there are a lot of styles and influences packed onto this album - if I could name them all, I would. That said, I think the album hangs together so well. Plus, there's not a duff song on show.

One exciting aspect of the collection for me is that it is more electric than some earlier albums. It seems some other reviewers prefer the stripped-back Devendra - and that's fine, obviously. But, this isn't a million miles away from where he's been before. It's like a progression from 'Cripple Crow' with a bit more rockiness rolling around. Add some funky steps, The Doors, stick with the good stories and humour... and you're just about there.

As you might gather I recommend this album. 'Seahorse' is one of the best songs I've heard. And, at 70+ minutes you're sure to find something you like if you buy.
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on 21 May 2014
I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys a classic way of listening to Devendra's groovy, beautiful and unique album
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on 26 September 2007
It's been a long time since I felt like this about a new release. Mostly you pretty much know what to expect when you first hear a new album from someone you've grown to love and here's the twist....sometimes, just sometimes, you take a listen and you're not sure...you're not comfortable...it's not what you expected...is it as good as you thought it might be?...doesn't sound like it...sounds kind of strange...oh dear!...try again, give each track a 2nd listen...still uncomfortable, but that bit sounds pretty good...hold on, I like that bit as well....and is that Vashti Bunyan singing?....still not sure....listen again....wow, here's another bit that sounds great and I'd not noticed that guitar before, still not sure...listen again... You get the picture, slowly but surely this gets better and better. Might take a few listens but this is classic DB and co. Takes me back (showing my age now) to how I felt listening to the Incredible String Band for the first time...Keep listening, there are gems in here.
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on 8 June 2016
Amazing album
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