A record littered with life lessons
The 10th studio album from the Venezuelan singer-songwriter is as poetic as it is a reminder that since 2002 Devendra Banhart has continued to create freak-folk music for the soul. Banhart’s 2016 Ape in Pink Marble was a satisfying walk on the beach where Ma is an insightful book of lessons from a man filled with life’s most understated moments. As humans, we forget the bonds that tie us all together and in Ma, Banhart takes his time to unpack those wonderful and sometimes haunting moments.
Throughout the 13-track album, Banhart takes a bit of a new path through the twisted woods of folk music by sticking to the basics and letting his vocals, guitar, strings and keyboard do the talking. Album opener “Is This Nice” is a gentle breeze of a track that allows the best parts of Banhart’s vocals to shine. The album tackles the unsettling parts of life like a death in songs like “Memorial.” The track details the death of Banhart’s father and two of his friends. By reassuring that life and death are universal and should be addressed like common issues.
“Kantori Ongaku” deals with a world that ended up being way more than one might have bargained for and “October 12” turns from what sounds like a beautiful Spanish love ballad to heartbreaking loss after translated to English. Banhart flirts with his Venezuelan heritage in “Carolina” while speaking Portuguese for a would-be lover. The album ends on track “Will I See You Tonight,” where we see Banhart more vulnerable than ever longing for his love to return to him with lyrics like, “ Been waiting my whole life/ I’ve had this dream inside/ of looking in your eyes.”
A record littered with life lessons and a reminder that we are only human. Banhart took his time finding the right words for this album and it shows. Each track is thoughtfully pieced together on Ma and allows the listener to take something away with them. In an attempt to connect on a deeper level with his fans, Banhart has created real timeless music that listeners can come back to time and time again.