Devendra Banhart: Nino Rojo
BBC | by The Daily Growl
Prolific new US folkie keeps churning â€˜em outâ€¦Devendra Banhart is prolific, isnâ€™t he? Not only is this his second album this year, itâ€™s his second in four months! Now, this may be seen as a surfeit of creative genius, but while the lad (heâ€™s only 22 years old) is undoubtedly talented, Iâ€™m not quite sure how discerning he is. Both the previous album â€˜Rejoicing in the Handsâ€¦â€™ and this one (both XL Records) were apparently recorded in the same sessions, but I reckon he could have released one great album, rather than two slightly inconsistent ones.
There are so many good ingredients in his skewed take on folk music: a bit of an eccentric backwoodsman persona, quirky lyrics (like â€œShakes your pretty little clavicleâ€), stripped-down acoustic guitars, cracked, quivering vocals, and so often it works well â€“ lovely bluesy strains on â€˜Wake up Little Sparrowâ€™ and â€˜My Shipsâ€™, the fantastic horn flourish at the end of â€˜We All Knowâ€™, and the majestically ragged â€˜Electric Heartâ€™. Heâ€™s got a thing about writing songs about animals too (see â€˜â€¦Sparrowâ€™ and â€˜Little Yellow Spiderâ€™). But elsewhere thereâ€™s just a bit too much meandering to hold my attention and some of the songs are just not that strong.
That said, this album (and â€˜Rejoicingâ€¦â€™) is still well worth listening to, and with a little more tough decisions made (or a good editor), heâ€™ll release classic album yet.