Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Verdict = Better Than Expected
Does it seem to anyone else that with all the hype that naturally befalls a release from Devendra Banhart that there was absolutely no fanfare, critical or otherwise for the most recent, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon? The first possible deterrent, yes, following in step with Cripple Crow, SRDTM is a lengthy, bloated affair stretching every allowable centimeter of the CD that carries it. Psychologically, this has to be one of the foremost deterrents to the album. Who wants to sort through such a mess? The second, Devendra’s media presence (and lyrics) have grown ominously weirder awash with every facet of the bizarre gypsy life that he apparently leads. I will be the first to admittedly cast myself into this lot of over-lookers who, despite having an extreme affection for his past work, simply just let the album drift out of view without so much as a glance as it toppled over the water fall into obliviously lost albums. Well, it seems that the record has resurfaced for me and I’m inclined to tell you why you should be jumping into oblivion's waters to retrieve it for yourself because SRDTM is Banhart’s best since Rejoicing in the Hands left an entire musical community slack-jawed and starving for more. The album definitely showcases Banhart’s incredible versatility, evoking a tapestry of songs that weave in and out of differing genre moods as if he was their originator. Within a handful of tracks, retrieved from any place area of the album, you can find the frail ghost of Jim Morrison, reinterpretations of Grease era pop and constant caricatures of psychedelic folk and classical rock all filtered through Banhart’s skewed vision. The results are always satisfying and upon repeat listens affectionately memorable. It really becomes difficult not to love the album. So, while Banhart could be taught a lesson or two on thinning out his playlist, I am definitely not going to complain about one of the greatest unsung opus’ of last year.
Devendra Banhart - Shabop Shalam