Monday, October 26, 2009

Devendra Banhart review for JC Report

Put A Record On: Devendra Banhart Gets Freaky With His Folk
October 26th, 2009 | San Francisco

Devendra Banhart is as close as you get to a poster boy for the contemporary folk music scene. With his long, dark, curly hair and hermit's beard, he is bound to stick out among other more well-groomed pop stars. Not that his name didn't make him stick out already. But these circumstances have given Banhart a recognizable niche—one that he has been busily exploring.

New album What We Will Be is his seventh output in as many years and is also his most accessible release to date. The 14-track opus continues Banhart's soft approach to melodies and lyrics, but there is a clear Latin element this time around. Tracks such as "Maria Leonza" boast distinctive vocal arrangements, which gives off a welcome jolt of the exotic.

The 28-year-old singer was born in Texas, but raised by his mother in Venezuela—and this well-travelled past may explain the worldwide influences. Final track "Foolin" has strong musical relations with Bob Marley and The Wailers' "Jammin," while "Angelika" abruptly turns from folk to Brazilian tropicalia. What We Will Be constantly switches between styles and music genres, but it somehow always makes sense—there's a reason why his music has been labelled "freak folk," after all.

What We Will Be is now out in a limited edition. For more information, see

—David Hellqvist

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