Review of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon Album by Devendra Banhart

Devendra Banhart
Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Album Review

Devendra Banhart Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon Album

Having ignored Banhart thus far - for the simple and rather tenuous reason that he looks like Vincent Gallo and only one man on this planet should look like Vincent Gallo and that is, obviously, Vincent Gallo – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Mountain is an enticing affair.

Devendra’s new album begins, brimming with Spanish guitars, lush harmonies, the kind of crooning you expect while you’re tucking into your spag bol on plastic chairs in the Costa Del Sol, displaced and thrust into a setting that makes it not only acceptable but moving. And then… Banhart the American indie stalwart makes a slight return, all tremelo vocal and Doors-esque organs churning in the background, Floyd-esque guitars howling at the fore. Not entirely unlike a faded carbon print of Tim Buckley, his whispered vocals creep up on you, washing over your soul, then slipping back to dig their nails in, double-check that you’re listening.

For a fan, this is probably soul food, the stuff of exultation. For a relative newcomer, it’s a tasty side dish – an intrigue to be dipped into and savoured.

Hayley Avron

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