Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

Monday, 12 November 2007, 17:27 | Category : Uncategorized
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One of the disadvantages of having a small baby now living in my house is cutting drastically down on the old gig-going habit. So instead of a review of Devendra Banhart’s gig at Kentish Town Forum last week, I’m doing a review of his new album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon instead. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Firstly, your priorities tend to change a bit when little people enter your life, and secondly, it’s a very good album.

It’s been a month or so since it was released, so I’m not so fresh onto this, but the few weeks since then have given me a bit of time to spend with the record, and I’m pleased to say that this has been time will spent. Time to appreciate the increasing amount of pleasures that I’m getting from it. Time to take in the usual big blend of musical influences and mad lyrics.

Like its predecessor Cripple Crow, Smokey is another long album (16 tracks, clocking in at over 71 minutes), but also like the former LP it never seems too long, never outstays its welcome. That’s largely down to Banhart’s wilful eclecticism and seeming determination not to keep flogging the same dead horse. For someone who’s risen to prominence as a (freak?) folk artist, this album is more of a trip through the 70s, with plenty riffs that belong firmly in that decade, as well as some slick gospel, hippy rock, oddball latin-flecked Spanish language numbers, Jewish doo-wop (really) as well as the expected folky stylings. To some this may seem contrived, but I don’t think he’s trying too hard. There just seems like a lot of love for music going on here.

Maybe Devendra’s gig last week was great. If my past experience is anything to go by I’ve no doubt it was. But there will no doubt be other chances to see him on stage. He’s not a band, so there’s less chance he’ll split up. And until next time he’s in town, I’ve got this minor classic to keep me going.

Download: Devendra Banhart – Saved
Download: Devendra Banhart – So Long Old Bean

Buy Smokey from Rough Trade or download from emusic.

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