Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Devendra Banhart continues to suprise and enlighten.

Devendra Banhart is not average by any means. Born in Houston and raised in Venezuela, it is clear he evolved as a musician from a plethora of ethnic influences. Although you might not understand everything he is saying, his sixth album is intriguing, eclectic and liberating.

Released Oct. 23 by Reprise Records, What Will We Be, showcases Banhart's mysterious persona that rises out of his stream-of-consciousness lyrics and shaky vocals.

Straight out of the "New Weird America" movement, Banhart challenges traditions with his multi-dimensional genre-proof songs. As he alternates between Spanish and English, it is clear Banhart possesses a deep connection to the universe that many people lack.

Using repetition throughout his songs is one element Banhart incorporates to emphasize the importance of his lyrics. In "Meet Me At Lookout Point," he repeats, "My heart will find you," displaying much sincerity and enthusiasm.

Indie, reggae, rock, tribal or freak-folk music — whatever you want to call it, Banhart's musical adventures allow us to explore ideas inside of us that are otherwise suppressed.

With lyrics about dancing, horses and renaissance fairs, Banhart reveals his eccentricity as a songwriter. It is a surreal experience to be surprised with every track, similar to that of his past two acclaimed albums, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (2007) and Cripple Crow (2005).

Although it is difficult to decipher his lyrics or gage Banhart's emotions, you can grasp his intentions for living in his music. Asking questions about the world, loving those around you and taking the time to celebrate life are essential parts of his life.

Throughout the track "Maria Lionza," Banhart sings "Who do you love?" An advocate for self-reflection, you can't help but think about the question the same way you can't help but sway to the relaxing sounds.

Banhart's instrumentation is mostly a calming background that supports his vocals, which dictate the mood of the track. You might hear rock. You might hear reggae.

It might take a couple of listens to understand the true freak-folk beauty of What Will We Be but have some patience, and you will come to appreciate Banhart's emotional spectrum and experimental nuance.

As Banhart says in the track "Baby," you will be saying "Holy moley" after becoming involved with the album.

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