Artist – Album: Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands
Released: 24th April 2006
Sounds Like: Beardy bloke’s freaky folk
Devendra Banhart is the crown prince of freak folk, the early noughties acoustic movement that glorified weirdy hippidom, lengthy luxurious locks but mostly captivating, pastoral folk. Taking up the model set by Vashti Bunyan, the Incredible String Band and other late sixties/ early seventies alternative performers, a ramshackle collection of artists such as Joanna Newsom, Espers and Banhart created a sub-genre that has bubbled on the periphery of indie for the last decade or so.
This, his second album and the first with any semblance of a budget, is potentially the crowning moment of the scene, a wonderfully rustic and whimsical record centred around Banhart’s hypnotic, faltering vocals and dexterous finger picking style.
Many reviewers picked up on the uplifting opener ‘This Is the Way’, and in particular the closing couplet “well we've known... we've had a choice. We chose rejoice” but this was just the first track of a great half an album, from the enlightened ‘A Sight to Behold’ to the shambling ‘The Body Breaks’, from the naive ‘Will Is My Friend’ to the nonsensical but knowing ‘This Beard Is for Siobhan’. The second half becomes more introspective, aside from the Vashti Bunyan fronted title track, and displays Banhart’s experimental side, with harps, violins, cellos and piano aiding the neatly plucked guitar strings.
Rejoicing in the Hands sounds magical and otherworldly, like it was played many moons ago on some rough acoustic guitar hewed from a giant, ancient oak tree and wielded by a biblical prophet, all wise yet pure. Perhaps not everyone will be taken in by the twee and whimsy and general nonsense, but most will find it a freak-folk treasure.
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. This Is the Way – 2:53
2. A Sight to Behold – 2:26
3. The Body Breaks – 2:43
4. Poughkeepsie – 2:17
5. Dogs They Make Up in the Dark – 1:20
6. Will Is My Friend – 3:04
7. This Beard Is for Siobhán – 2:36
8. See Saw – 3:22
9. Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry – 1:25
10. Rejoicing in the Hands – 1:41
11. Fall – 2:53
12. Todo Los Dolores – 2:30
13. When the Sun Shone on Vetiver – 3:34
14. There Was Sun – 1:31
15. Insect Eyes – 5:08
16. Autumn’s Child – 2:40
Listen to ‘This Beard Is for Siobhán’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nQSfce3ILQ
Also released on the 24th April:
1960: Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack