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Devendra Banhart | REJOICING IN THE HANDS

Boston Phoenix | by TED DROZDOWSKI

MYSTIC RIVERS: Devendra Banhart's gift for melody and his light, spacious, guitar playing make even his darkest meditations easy to take.

Like some Transcendentalist cross between English folksinger Donovan and Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson, this young neo-hippie singer-songwriter plies his sweet, high, vibrato-dipped vocal cords in the service of mini-mysteries that ricochet between such notions as God-like omniscience and the playful deconstruction of the human form. Sure, his yarns are hard to follow and likely to plunge off into some mystical wonderland at every turn, but Banhart’s gift for melody in both his singing and his light, spacious, mostly acoustic-guitar playing make it easy to keep listening to even his darkest meditations. Fans of Syd Barrett may find their way into these musical mythscapes more easily than traditional folk and blues buffs — after all, Banhart’s non-sequiturs and puns and titles like "Tit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicry" would sound comfortable coming from the Pink Floyd co-founder’s mouth. And when Banhart worries his guitar notes and spins a playful tune over a drone in "Tit Smoking" (an instrumental, by the way), some parallels between his playing and Barrett’s are obvious. What’s also obvious is that nobody else is making music quite like this today.
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