nothing can be sure to cheer me up like listening to banhart. inevitable really when most of his songs are about things like trees and bugs and breakfast. musically similar to folk artists like nick drake (with some comparable string sections) and john renbourn, but with a slight manic, backwoods feel (largely created by the droning, sometimes quiet-sometimes loud, perfect vocals) banharts songs are low key and pretty, with a definate autumnul, earthy feel, perfect for hazy evenings and summer mornings.
I've not heard any of Banhart's previous records, but this is a beauty. delicate and understated but with a thrilling energy and wit that makes these simple guitar and voice songs sound a million miles away from the drippy miserablism of some singer/songwriter fare. Similar in spirit to Joanna Newsom's 'The Milk-Eyed Mender', (tho i guess Banhart was there first). There's more beauty in any one of these lo-fi gems than in a whole HMV full of over-produced digital blandness. If you're a Banhart fan, check out also David Thomas Broughton's 'Guide To Insufficiency'.
Don't listen to the first review on this page. The music is unusual, but never unapproachable. This album has truly grown on me. The first listen was "wow, weird", but it just gets better. My only minor gripe is the occasional immaturity of the guitar playing, but maybe this creates an even better record because of it. Whilst it's not an album you just pop on, it is something you will keep coming back to for those more personal listening moments.
This summer when the temperature creeps up toward 95° and the air conditioner isn't cutting it, go sit on your porch and put on Devendra Banhart's new album Rejoicing in the Hands. Each song is a folk music gem, and the combination of his tremendous guitar plucking and trembling voice provides an emotional weight to this album that few previous lo-fi recordings have come close to achieving. What the record represents is a distillation of the material he presented earlier. Recorded with Lynn Bridges over the course of a couple weeks in his living room in Georgia, the tracks here feel more intimate and yet still spacious, framed by the occasional chirping of cicadas and subtle arrangements that laconically pass through. When stripped of the tape hiss, Banhart's guitar is given room to breathe, giving his songs an openness and sense of urgency that was often lacking before - while "This Is the Way" is as breezy as a summer night on a back porch, "A Sight to Behold" bristles with a rising vocal line held against intricate guitar work and the occasional orchestral flourish.
To keep it short and simple, like Banharts songs, this album is totally enchanting and beguiling. Reminiscent of the days of John Martin and Nick Drake, Banharts songs are whispery, accompanied by a little guitar and sparse piano. This is the first record of the year to blow me away - a definite soundtrack for my summer.
Heard this first in one of Edinburgh's finest vegetarian restaurants (Black Bo's) and was forced to ask who it was. My prediction is that if you like either or both of Bolan and Drake, you'll love this. If you dislike either of them, it will bring you out in a rash!
This album is captivating, humourous and powerful. From the resonant chorus of "Love, it would much better..." in the second track to the startling finale, it is an important album and a refreshing antidote to the drudge of the daily toil.