DEVENDRA BANHART, Rejoicing in the Hands
Seattle Weekly | by NED RAGGETT
At once attractive and unsettlingUncountable numbers of bands have happily helped themselves to T. Rexâ€™s blueprint of strutting glam pop, but young singer/songwriter Devendra Banhart has found partial roots in Marc Bolanâ€™s earlier, more overtly folk-tinged work. Banhartâ€™s voice possesses a haunting quaver that recalls Bolanâ€™s unearthly keening, but he matches it with a wide appreciation of Bolanâ€™s manyâ€”and often more musically accomplishedâ€”late â€™60s peers, like the Incredible String Band. Banhartâ€™s debut album, Oh Me Oh My . . . , showed his potential in a fragmented way (it mostly consisted of very short demos), but Rejoicing in the Hands has far more memorable songs, not to mention being better produced, with label boss Michael Gira adding a minimal rhythm section and string overdubs that enhance Banhartâ€™s direct, intimate appeal. Throughout, Banhart plays some deft guitar (â€œPoughkeepsie,â€ â€œTit Smoking in the Temple of Artesan Mimicryâ€) and warbles reflective, often playful lyrics (â€œNow because my teeth donâ€™t bite/I can take them out dancing, alright!â€), culminating with the breathtaking voice-and-piano â€œAutumnâ€™s Child,â€ which, like Rejoicing in whole, is at once attractive and unsettling.