Devendra Banhart, Rejoicing in the Hands

Agouti | by Eli

Rejoicing in the Hands has an enchantingly rare mystique about it

When you first lay eyes on Devendra Banhart, it’s tempting to simply dismiss him as a lackadaisical 23-year-old neo-folk hippie. But the moment his graciously transcendent utterances flow softly through your ear canal, you feel ashamed for having harbored such misplaced judgment. I was never particularly fond of folk-style harmony, but Rejoicing in the Hands has an enchantingly rare mystique about it. The acoustics are impressive, if not downright exemplary. It’s the type of music you might hum to yourself while strolling along a lengthy winding road, clouds rolling overhead as the sun dips quietly into the ocean.

When a really good song is over, the listener wishes that it could’ve continued on forever. The same holds true for certain albums. Occasionally, you run across the kind of record that must be heard from start to finish and then played over once again in its entirety. Devendra Banhart effortlessly triumphed in crafting such a valuable treasure and has done it all without any inclination toward projecting a distorted self-image.

Manufactured personas are exceedingly commonplace in the music industry. Many artists create identities that shadow their former selves, often in a crude attempt to propagate their recorded works. Devendra Banhart seems comfortable merely being himself, and that quality of character is abundantly evident on Rejoicing in the Hands.

This stands out as one of the better releases of 2004 thus far. Don’t believe me? Get the record for yourself and have a good listen.