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Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 18 / 9 / 2005

Devendra Banhart - Cripple Crow
Label: XL Recordings
Format: CD


Largely acoustic fifth album from distinctive, quirky Los Angeles based troubadour Devendra Banhart, which finds him moving away from home recordings and venturing for the first time into a proper recording studio

Devendra Banhart’s fifth release, ‘Cripple Crow’ has seen the Los Angeles based troubadour move his sound forward, forming a band featuring members of the Pleased, Yacht and Vetiver and venturing for the first time into a proper studio . As you can imagine, this has caused a reaction among members of countless music forums similar to that when Bob Dylan first picked up an electric guitar. This is quite surprising, because despite a more layered sound, the style of Banhart’s music hasn’t changed drastically; ‘Cripple Crow’ is a largely acoustic record with Banhart peddling the distinctive, brilliantly quirky song-writing style that’s appeared on all his albums. The difference is the arrangements of each song, which varies from each track. There is a distinct late-60's influence on the tracks, even down to the references to 60's icons like the Beatles in the lyrics. For example ‘Long Haired Child’ has a psychedelic rock feel to it and next song ‘Lazy Butterfly’ is backed by Indian instruments like tabla and sitar, which often turned up in songs in the late 60's. South American music is another key inspiration to ‘Cripple Crow.’ New single ‘I feel Just Like a Child’ has one of the strangest arrangements on the record, with bongos, a Motown-style bassline and an assortment of woodwind instruments accompanying an upbeat energetic twelve-bar blues played on acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, you can hear elements of country, soul and to an extent, even reggae, but Banhart hasn’t completely abandoned the sparse arrangements of past records. ‘Now That I Know’, ‘Queenbee’ and ‘Inaniel’ are essentially just Banhart and a guitar, with the odd string accompaniment. As a whole, despite the range of influences, ‘Cripple Crow’ is a Devendra Banhart record, and fans of his previous records should enjoy this one. It all fits together extremely well considering the tracks' differing arrangements, coming across as a warm, folky album, with plenty of weird wonderful lyrics about Chinese children, an assortment of animals and odes to peace and love. Those with iTunes also get an added bonus, a nine-minute, two song medley, ‘White Reggae Troll/Africa’ which is unsurprisingly reggae influenced, before becoming Sly and the Family Stone–funky when it becomes ‘Africa’; a great and well hidden extra.

Track Listing:-
1 Now That I Know
2 Santa Maria De Feira
3 Heard Somebody Say
4 Long Haired Child
5 Lazy Butterfly
6 Quedate Luna
7 Queen Bee
8 I Feel Just Like a Child
9 Some People Ride The Wave
10 The Beatles
11 Dragonflys
12 Cripple Crow
13 Inaniel
14 Hey Mama Wolf
15 How's About Tellin A Story
16 Chinese Children
17 Sawkill River
18 I Love That Man
19 Luna De Margarita
20 Korean Dogwood
21 Little Boys
22 Canela

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