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Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands

Kitty Magik | by Amy Phillips

It's all about that voice, and the sheer beauty of Banhart's melodies and arrangements

Being a hippie is cool again. Didn't you get the memo? It's OK to have long hair and wear dashikis-all the punks aren't going to laugh at you anymore. In fact, they're going to think you're pretty cool. Take Devendra Banhart. He's a twenty-three-year-old singer/songwriter worshipped by hipsters, despite the fact that he looks like Charles Manson raised on a free-love commune. He also sings in an unstable cackle/warble and plucks an acoustic guitar like he's sitting next to a campfire.

So why is Devendra Banhart cool? Well, this whole new folk revival thing might have something to do with current events, which would make anybody yearn for a little peace and love. But for me, a hater of most things Nick Drake-like, it's all about that voice, and the sheer beauty of Banhart's melodies and arrangements. Rejoicing, his second record for Swans main man Michael Gira's Young God records, sounds like a transmission from some sort of utopia, where animals and people live as one, everybody's happy, and Vashti Bunyan is the reigning goddess/queen (the '60s folk earth mama duets with Banhart on the title track). You don't even need to be stoned to appreciate it.

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