A great singer-songwriter has the ability to communicate often complicated subject matter, via a simple song. He or she also has the ability to take the mundane and deliver it with a fresh perspective. With the album Cripple Crow, the young and extremely talented Devendra Banhart crafts songs that range from the downright silly to the extremely poignant.Devendra shines the brightest when he is at his most playful. Songs like the homegrown ditty â€šÃ„ÃºSome People Ride the Wave,â€šÃ„Ã¹ and the Donovan-influenced â€šÃ„ÃºI Feel Just Like A Child,â€šÃ„Ã¹ are ones that combine clever lyricism, sung in repetition, and simple music in order to create folky sing-a-longs. On â€šÃ„ÃºChinese Childrenâ€šÃ„Ã¹ Devendra and friends sing about how his children would remain Chinese no matter where he lived. The off-the-cuff nature of the singing, and silly lyrics like â€šÃ„ÃºAnd if I lived in my land/Which I do/Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d still have Chinese children,â€šÃ„Ã¹ make this song a definite stand-out. On â€šÃ„ÃºLong Haired Childâ€šÃ„Ã¹ he insists that his children have long hair so that their heads won’t be cold. The seriousness of the bluesy melody and the repetitive snare drums provide a nice contrast to the light and whimsical vocals.
There are also moments of poignancy on Cripple Crow as well. The somber â€šÃ„ÃºI Heard Somebody Sayâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is a Pacifist’s subtle cry for peace. With its simple piano structure, and direct messaging, it recalls the later work of John Lennon.
Cripple Crow, is an enchanting, delightful peek into the mind and soul of a great songwriter. It is an album fueled by oddity and honesty, spirituality and appreciation. It is a unique album for these unique times.