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Devendra Banhart, Nino Rojo

Soundsxp | by by Matt H

A highly mannered hippy vocal his trademark

A strange old prospect, Mr Banhart. Like so many now, stripped bare folk is his mode of expression. A highly mannered hippy vocal his trademark. The style of his songs drifts from the deeply silly cod-kindergarten rhyme (Little Yellow Spider) to those with a more successful old fashioned blusey edge (An Island, Be Kind, Owl Eyes). If it weren't for the vocal a number of these latter could almost have been culled from some obscure 1920s American Folkways release (though it's worth noting that the best by some way, opener Wake Up Little Sparrow, is in fact a cover version). Ultimately though the voice wears you down over the length of an album. Where others with an idiosyncratic style (Will Oldham, Jim O'Rourke) gradually endear, Banhart moves from fun to kooky. So much that, before you get to the end, you wouldn't be surprised to hear him burst into a chorus of "Smelly Cat". Which is a shame, because when you do get to the last song - the uplifting drunken singalong of Electric Heart with its tipsy trumpet - you find that there is something to Mr Banhart after all.
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