Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the HandsOne of those albums to get excited about Following the release of Rejoicing in the Hands, Devendra Banhart seemed to just explode into the national spotlight, and in turn has exposed a hotbed of contemporary folk music on the west coast; and as Devendra and acts such as White Magic, Xiu Xiu, M. Ward, Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, Espers, and Vetiver continue to raise the bar with each new release, this scene has proven to be versatile and worthy of the attention they have been receiving.
On Oh Me Oh My..., Banhart's debut, he came across as a true outsider -- appealing to that side of us who still kind of liked those uneven early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums. However, on Rejoicing in the Hands Banhart has nailed home a complete winner. While he did not stray far from the formula of Oh Me Oh My..., he did improve noticeably across the board: as a singer, songwriter and guitar player. From the opening seconds of "This Is The Way" any skeptic of Banhart's talent would be impressed, his soft finger-picking and high-reaching vocals are far more subdued than one might expect after his last album, and actually recapture some of the great qualities of M. Ward's breakthrough offering Transfiguration of Vincent. Banhart's provocative lyrics are performed with passion and a true sense of conviction from the start to finish. There is also a great use of economy in the music; rich with musical tradition, but able to be simply enjoyed.
Rejoicing in the Hands is one of those albums to get excited about, with Banhart coming across as a reluctant hero -- oblivious to the attention he deserves and receives, and making music which just seems to radiate from his body. One of the astonishing qualities of this recording is that it is personal, and by listening to it one can't help but feel immersed in the "world" of Devendra... and that's a good thing when you have an opportunity to, even for just an hour, see things from such a unique perspective. Rejoicing in the Hands is successful because Banhart was able to interpret his weird world to such a widespread group of people, and in such a concise work. "Outsider" music or just plain "folk," Devendra Banhart's music has proven to transcend the inherent differences of his listeners, affecting people all the same.