Devendra Banhart | Rejoicing in the Hands

FAC 193 | by Jack Alberson

Impulsively executed and soulful

The premise of a man and his guitar weaving tales of his travels is an ancient theme—minstrels spread their oral literature far and wide, these stories eventually became what are now known as ‘the classics’. Many have tried this approach and many have languished in mediocrity or, worse yet, obscurity. With his second disc, Rejoicing in the Hands, Devendra Banhart stands to transcend simple tale-telling to become the stuff of legend himself.

The album starts easily enough with “This is the Way”, sort of a sketch of the man himself with lyrics like “this is the beard/I’m always growing”, the tones of his guitar played as spritely as any bluegrass number. Devendra’s amorphous voice wraps itself around every word and note, sometimes tapping into very classic vocal inflections (“This Beard is for Siobhán” is a fabulous example). Perhaps the greatest moments of this album reveal themselves in the last half with the back-to-back “Fall” and “Todo Los Dolores” as well as the beguiling “Insect Eyes”. The thing that separates him from the many others who try to walk this road of musical expression is his fluid versatility—often times the very topography of a song will change, thus taking the listener on a true voyage.

Impulsively executed and soulful, Rejoicing in the Hands has a very instant appeal that will keep you returning often to peel back yet another sublime layer.