Sounds From The Canyon
Devendra Banhart has always recorded self-indulgently long yet calculated records. His sixth full-length, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, is no exception. A wide variety of musical styles and instruments grabs the listener’s attention and holds on tight for 72 minutes.Banhart has sung in Spanish on past recordings but never opened up a record with one of those songs until now: The carefree, Venezuelan gin-joint atmosphere of “”Cristobal”” has Banhart guiding the listener through musical trends since 1950. On “”So Long Old Bean”” Banhart sings in Elvis-esque vibrato over hoof-mimicking coconut shell percussion which sounds like Smokey actually rolling down Thunder Canyon. Later on “”Seahorse”” Banhart switches up his style at least four times within eight minutes. He goes from his NiâˆšÂ±o Rojo-era guitar and vocals, to lounge-Jazz, to a Gregorian chant, to a Black Sabbath jam con salsa picante.
ame The song on Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon that really puts the “”freak”” in freak-folk has to be “”Shabop Shalom.”” It features a spoken word intro and outro reminiscent of “”The Gift”” and “”I Found a Reason”” by The Velvet Underground, and in between Banhart bears an uncanny resemblance to Roy Orbison. Yet instead of singing “”Oh Pretty Woman”” he nonsensically croons, “”Your sweet supple breasts are golden ghettos / Soft statues in stilettos / Two wise men instead of three / Blow a kiss just for me””
ame Devendra Banhart seems to have more fun recording than many other artists because he does it with his best friends, on his own terms. Considering the cast of characters Banhart employed on this album, including Noah Georgeson and Andy Cabic from Vetiver, he probably won’t “”die of loneliness”” as he prophesizes on “”My Dearest Friend.”” Rather, Devendra Banhart is on track to make quirky, interesting records until he dies from laughing too hard.