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Rejoicing in the Hands
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Devendra Banhart (vocals, guitar, electric guitar, piano); Devendra Banhart; Paul Cantelon (violin); Julia Kent (cello); Joe McGinty (piano, organ); Thor Harris (vibraphone, percussion); Steve Moses (drums, percussion); Vashti Bunyan (vocals).
  • Audio Mixer: Doug Henderson.
  • Recording information: Lynn Bridges' Home (2003); Seizures Palace, Brooklyn, NY (2003).
  • Acclaimed eccentric singer/songwriter Devendra Banhart takes a step out of the lo-fi basement and into the hi-fi living room for this critically lauded album. During a span of only 10 days, Banhart recorded more than 30 songs (co-produced by former Swans leader Michael Gira) that were subsequently divided between this record and its companion disc, NINO ROJO. Those already familiar with that gonzo folk masterwork will find this to be equally worthy (and vice versa).
  • "Will Is My Friend," "Poughkeepsie," and other songs benefit from some string and piano overdubs, but essentially, this is solo Banhart, with his seemingly tossed-off yet strangely anachronistic tunes creeping out like incense-perfumed air. Banhart's deft acoustic guitar finger-picking and vocal warbling show the influence of country blues masters like Blind Willie McTell and Skip James, while another of his idols, reclusive 1970s folk icon Vashti Bunyan, appears on the title track. Whether observing how a friend's hair is like "Insect Eyes" or rattling off the Elvis Presley filmography, Banhart purrs with such a mystic, neo-hippie vibe that he could lull even the staunchest nihilist to a love-in.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (4/15/04, p.151) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Sounding like the work of a high-pitched Tom Waits, Banhart's second album is full of alternately fragile and quirky folk songs..."

Q (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[E]ven more mesmeric and deep into Nick Drake territory: intense and slightly damaged, especially on the stark love songs..."

Uncut (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 - "REJOICING...feels like the work of a man in the midst of a prodigious creative spurt."

Uncut (p.74) - Ranked #26 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[A] mystical trip into an eerie neverland of joyful bohemian blues."

Magnet (p.87) - "With his trembling tenor, Banhart continues to traverse the surreal, telling the tales of laughing lemon trees, milky suns and dancing teeth....It's a mesmerizing journey through the dark heart of Brooklyn's lost boy."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Banhart wraps his songs in a gorgeously quavering warble that seems lifted right off some blues mama's dusty 78. A nearly flawless left-field folk."
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