DEVENDRA BANHART, Rejoicing in the Hands

Quad City Times | by Sean Moeller

Deeply rich folk

Low lights and the ease a long day brings would only enhance the sound of Devendra Banhart’s moving “Rejoicing in the Hands,” as salt crystals bunched at the cusp of a margarita glass better serve the taste of the tequila. His deeply rich folk — richer than the kind of dark chocolate that could make you gag — coddles to the simplistic elegance of a man and an acoustic guitar that without being seen, is sure to have seen better days. Banhart, homeless up until his first album on Young God Records was released two years ago, uses nature as allegory, expertly wiggling his voice from thought to thought as if a stubborn chunk of crouton refused to be swallowed. Breezes and flames hover like drunken vision and then jag between headphones like the flashing shoes of a toddler running after a sky full of taunting July fireflies. He beautifies what it takes to be different, not borrowing from old standards, but creating new melodies and ways to operate that should be timesharing with the past, but aren’t.

Banhart’s found an island all his own. It’s home to what have to be idiosyncratic daily aspirations. He’s one who wants different things, sings about different things than the rest of us and seems to almost get them. But right before he does, he hears that benefiting voice — belonging to the almighty — say kindly, “But first, how about one more song? Can you do that for me? Surely you wouldn’t mind.” This has gone on for two-plus years now with the almighty still listening and Banhart still playing the things that speak to gods and men alike.