Rejoicing in the Hands | by Brendan Stosuy

One of the year's most singular musical documents

New York City singer-songwriter Devendra Banhart is possessed with the quavering pipes of a Depression-Era folkie. A homeless wanderer when he signed to Young God two years ago, the prolific vagabond has since released a pair of arresting collections of lo-fi ballads. The third, Rejoicing In The Hands , sounds less homemade than his earlier efforts, but Banhart's ramshackle mystical musical streak survives the upgrade. Resembling a psychedelic Vincent Gallo and evoking a 21st Century Walt Whitman, Banhart celebrates rivers, the sky, friends and winding roads. The lyrics of the album's opener, "This Is The Way," are joyously poetic, lifted up to the heavens with voice and acoustic guitar: "This is the soup that I believe in/This is the smoke I'm always breathing." But Banhart is more than just some idealistic neo-hippy. He also knows how to pull off a foppish cabaret charm, especially on the dust-kicking "This Beard is for Siobhán." The man has molded his own grubby Beatnik Eden outside contemporary trends and, in doing so, has created one of the year's most singular musical documents.