A few days back, a friend of mine posted the following video on his Facebook profile with a challenge, try not to smile while you listen to this song.
After failing the challenge I couldn’t help but explore this musician further.
Born in Houston Texas in the 80s Devendra Banhart made the unusual move to San Francisco’s gay district for his college years, where he studied at San Francisco Art Institute. Hardly a top student, Devendra would spend most of his classes busking on the streets. He then continued to tour across Europe and America before being discovered by Michael Gira, owner of Young Gods Records.
He is a charitable man too and often finds ways to make a contribution in his own style; the most recent being a collaboration in 2011 with Marisa Monte and Rodrigo Amarante for the Red Hot Organisation’s most recent charitable album ‘Red Hot+Rio 2.’ Proceeds from the sales will be donated to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues.
I would describe his music as peaceful and well travelled, it paints the picture of a beautiful landscape rushing past a bus window.
With his soft sounding voice, admittedly his albums make great background music rather than something to scream and shout about, but then again we all deserve a wind down every now and again.
His music and sound is nothing new, but his voice is something special. His vocal arrangement has the ability to lift generic and overused Latin sounds to something much more powerful.
His albums have developed over the years and each one comes with its own individual sound, thanks to collaborations and advice from musical minds across the globe. His latest album ‘What Will Be’ was tamed and moulded by producer Paul Butler. Critics have claimed that this collaboration has given Devendra a much more radio friendly album, compared to its predecessors.
Permitted he remains in one piece, as he has been known to cancel gigs after breaking bones following his other love of skateboarding, you can find Denvendra touring the US.
Unless you’re prepared to fork out for expensive air fare us Brits will just have to be happy with his music played through our own speakers.
He is a very complex and strange character, his music is easy listening but I don’t see it appearing on the shelves in Tesco’s anytime soon or as part of my mother’s album collection for dinner parties.