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It finds him backed only by cello and his own guitar, in confessional: "12 years old/ In [my] mama's clothes/ Shut the blinds and lock up every door/ And if you hear someone's coming near/ Just close your eyes it'll make 'em disappear." Elsewhere, on "Heard Somebody Say", there's a sense of protest, with Feathers' lovely vocals adding witch-hunt background layers.
Banhart gently lays down the thesis-- "Heard somebody say the war ended today/ But everybody knows it's going still"-- before winding around to the chill-inducing punchline, the easiest anti-war slogan ever: "It's simple, we don't want to kill." Later, he tries out Dylan rhyme schemes on "I Feel Just Like a Child", while "Some People Ride the Wave" is Louis Armstrong with New Orleans toy jazz ("some people write the songs that stay inside our souls"); "The Beatles" lets it be known that "Paul Mc Cartney and Ringo Starr are the only Beatles in the world" before shifting gears into Spanish; Pangea and various fertility myths are given new legs in "Chinese Children"; and endless love song "Korean Dogwood" tells as thorough an elliptical story as Banhart's tackled.
Banhart's fourth album isn't a compilation, nor is it billed as a group project, but he's assembled such a rich cast of cohorts here, it feels more like the fruit of community interaction than the product of a lone singer/songwriter.
The communal vibe is hinted at by the album's artwork: Rather than adorning the cover with his usual calligraphic scribbles, Banhart offers a composite photo of "The Family" (a term he often ascribes to his musical friends), gathered beneath a large knotty tree and accompanied by the disembodied heads of smiling spirits.
His vocals, too, often draped in slight reverb, are especially assured and less flaky than on previous outings.
And as mentioned above, an ensemble cast showed up to back him: There's best chum Andy Cabic (aka Vetiver), Noah Georgeson (of Joanna Newsom's old rock band the Pleased, and producer of ), and Thom Monohan (Pernice Brother and production whiz).
"Lazy Butterfly" is memorable for Cabic's closely mic'd backing vocals and a tambora sheen along with hand drums and guitars.
Performing her clever fables with a finely tuned artisanal touch and an altered vocal delivery due to a vocal nodules complication, across three discs of songs of self-sacrifice she created a record of decorative warmth. Moving on to the present day, flew up the pop charts in October and received universal acclaim as a mature and well calculated effort.
Banhart's ambition is apparent throughout, but at 22 tracks and almost 75 minutes, the album does stretch its legs too long.
Though it feels like an attempt to document as thoroughly as possible his late winter retreat to Woodstock, any more experienced mystics will tell you that blanks, dissolves, gaps, and other ingredients for mystery could've made it even richer.
Mainly because I don't really care for either guy's music (except that one DID bone Natalie Portman which continues to antagonize my roommate to this very day).
So yeah, which will it be, if it came down to listening to either guy's stuff?