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With seven albums under his belt it seems that the Texas born (raised in Venezuela) folk singer Devandra Banhart has renewed his eclectic sound and even banished that beard! In an exploration of the some-what subdued, his eighth album ‘Mala’ depicts the sad echoes of ruined affection.
During the early years of ‘Oh Me Oh My’ Banhart was disconnected from the mainstream and notably experimental in style. Simple guitar melodies and dreamlike, lyrical themes are typical but perhaps the transition from discreet indie label Young Gods to major players Warner Bros; a more radio-friendly direction has been taken. This is probably why he is pretty much a household name these days. Songs like ‘Baby’ and the beautiful ‘Santa Maria De Feira’ provide that sweet bohemian poetry that Banhart is best known for but his recent album release has a fragmented approach with an almost ‘work in progress’ feel.
Since Banhart’s 2009 release of ‘What Will Be Will Be’ and his Grammy nominated visual arts project he has progressed with a move from LA to New York and set up home with his fiancée, the gorgeous Serbian photographer Ana Kras. He even duets with Kras on ‘Mala’ track ‘Your Fine Petting Duck’ An artful duet evoking memories of lost love… not their love I might add. Apparently their first exchange when the two met was a marriage proposal – She originally said no.
I guess the rest is history.
New album ‘Mala’ will be released on March 12th 2013.
Devendra Banhart’s new album, ‘Mala’ released March 2013 sees a calmer, more thoughtful work, experimenting this time round with a somewhat duskier sound, recognisable in the instantly intriguing ‘Golden Girls’ where we were lazily invited to ‘get on the dance floor’. It wasn’t long before new favourites’ like the dreamy ‘Fur Hildegard von Bingen’ and the one that everyone knows, ‘Baby’ from Banhart’s 2009 album ‘What Will We Be’ commanded the necessary array of on-cue ‘oooh-ing’ from the crowd. The Old Market was the perfect setting for our favourite Folk eccentric, allowing for an intimacy with his audience that perhaps would have been lost having played one of Brighton’s larger venues.
Playing a variety of old and new, including ‘Bad Girl’ and the devastatingly beautiful yet cheerful ‘Sea Horse’ from his 2007 release ‘Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Mountain’, it is Banhart’s thoughtful musical arrangement and responsive stage presence that stands him apart from his fellow music makers. Like much of his new music, ‘Cristobal’ and ‘Daniel’ brought naïve fragility to the evening where soft vocals and genteel guitars drifted over the room. With a more traditional folk approach to recent release ‘Mi negrita’, Banhart seduced the crowd in Spanish, articulating a heartfelt love affair, coaxing us to hang from his every word.
Even with a generous 16 track set-list, time allowed for a few extras, notably the adorable ‘Little Yellow Spider’ from his Nino Rojo album of 2004 with its nursery-rhyme on acid type poetry of dancing crabs and snapping turtles proving; amusingly peculiar and heartfelt.
Whether he’s writing sweet songs like ‘Never Seen Such Good Things’ or adding a certain camp Vibrato to his live performance, Banhart’s endearing approach as an artiste is what makes him so special… the fact that’s he’s rather easy on the eye of course didn’t go completely un-noticed either.
Words: Carmen Jose
Melting Vinyl is a truely independent promotions company, local people work with us and we keep the money in the city of Brighton, and are very much inspired by the creative, buzzing sunny shores. We are committed to bringing you quality local, national and international artists. The venues we use vary from intimate spaces to unusual places such as cinemas and churches to the 1,800 seated Dome. It’s all music that’s our personal taste and that you want to hear. It’s important to us that the shows are well booked, well presented and ultimately you enjoy yourself.