Davendra Banhart | Oh Me Oh My | Review

Bernhart marks himself as a poet before a musician - October 18 Devendra Banhart confirms for me the idea that there can be as many unique singer/songwriters as there can be unique people. His idiosyncratic voice is magnified by a doubling technique that sounds like he recorded all the vocals twice and then mixed both versions together. His unusual tenor fits into the sound popularized by the Elephant 6 crew, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, etc; however, his delivery, despite its modernity, still comes across as being more timeless than any of the previously mentioned singers. His finger picking style is generally calm, but has a haunting, demented quality to it, mysterious enough to insure his guitar will one day take on the creepy mythos of an old ouija board. Rather than focus on his performance, he seems to concentrate more on the content of the songs themselves, singing them all as if they were uncollected folk standards. Indeed, Bernhart will likely appeal to the modern-day Harry Smiths of the record collecting world. With incredibly evocative lyrics, Bernhart marks himself as a poet before a musician; the metaphors he employs are both specific and spacious, clever yet hollow. While the meaning is not always immediately apparent, Bernhart's words are aesthetically intoxicating. He has the ability to create an entire world for the listener to inhabit, a skill exhibited by few of his peers (Bjork or The Music Tapes are the only two that come immediately to mind). His world is rich with images, yet filled with ghosts.