Devendra Banhart - Rejoicing in the Hands

Fakejazz | by Nick Hennies

Suave and seductive quality

What to say about an album so widely acclaimed by critics across the globe? Each one of them will tell you that Devendra Banhart's new album is more mature and confident, and that Banhart's foray into the recording studio benefits his newfound confidence rather than taking away from the mystique found on his "lo-fi" debut. They will tell you that the guest musicians enhance Banhart's songs in a way that never would have been possible if he had continued documenting them on tape recorders and answering machines. Finally, they've said that Rejoicing in the Hands is an incredibly accomplished and appealing album, having stripped much of the surreal weirdness of his earlier work in favor of more inviting-yet-cryptic lyrics. While all of these things are true, is there nothing more to say about what is easily one of the best albums to have been released in months? What is it that allows for such a seemingly odd musician to connect with so many people?

The main characteristic that sets Rejoicing in the Hands apart from Banhart's previous recordings is its charisma. Yes, he is more self-assured with his quivering voice and increasingly proficient guitar skills, but more noticeable is the suave and seductive quality found throughout even the most haunting songs. Somebody once asked Talk Talk's Mark Hollis why his lyrics were so hard to understand and he responded by saying that the meaning of the words was secondary to the gesture—the way things sound. Devendra could be singing about anything... taking his teeth out dancing, his friend Will, Poughkeepsie, a tribute to Vetiver... he could be singing about the most random object or person and his character and demeanor would still shine through. Because Banhart's winning personality is so much a part of Rejoicing in the Hands , it's a remarkable album and a potential classic to be discovered and rediscovered for years to come.