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DEVENDRA BANHART | Rejoicing In The Hands

Magnet | by Andrew Parks

A mesmerizing journey

Oh Me Oh My..., Devendra Banhart’s 2002 debut, was the work of a madman. It was as though someone slipped a four-track and an acoustic guitar through the bars at Bellevue and said, “Play, man, play.” The troubled troubadour’s second album is as peculiar as its straitjacket-folk predecessor, but this time out, it’s actually accessible. With his trembling tenor, Banhart continues to traverse the surreal, telling the tales of laughing lemon trees, milky suns and dancing teeth. Despite the inexplicable slew of Elvis references at the end of “Poughkeepsie,” Rejoicing In The Hands is markedly less eccentric than Oh Me mostly because Banhart’s delivery has evolved from psychotic banshee into thinking, feeling homo sapien. There’s even a hint of happiness on psychedelia-flecked saloon jam “This Beard Is For Siobhán.” Where Oh Me borders on no-fi with its constant hiss, the production quality of Rejoicing has improved exponentially. Banhart now follows a skeletal structure of gently plucked chords, augmented with delicate touches of cello, piano and violin. It’s a mesmerizing journey through the dark heart of Brooklyn’s lost boy.
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