I've Been Listening to Devendra Banhart's Freak Folk


I don't know a lot about folk music - but again what are genres anyway? I just like music. Still, folk tends to refer to traditional music - a time before amplification where the sound emanated from an instrument and voice. It's straight forward until the 1960s came along. This was an era when many things became a little weird. Artists like John Fahey and the Holy Modal Rounders offered folk that was surreal, odd and kinda freaky.

The term Freak Folk is relatively new. It refers to a new generation of singer/songwriters that are a little weird. And there's that lineage to the original Freak Folkies.

I love Devendra Banhart. His guitar work is firmly rooted in Fahey but he's a crooner/troubadour. And it's twisted. "Poughkeepsie" off of Rejoicing in the Hands (Of The Golden Empress) is one of my favorites. It's kind of dark but doesn't get too spooky with it's references to Elvis Presley. "This Beard Is For Siobhan" is Bahnart as the troubadour.

Like Salvador Dali, or even Fahey, Banhart's has a penchant for long titles. Oh Me Oh My...The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit is a collection of low-fi, short tunes that are either sweet or kind of menacing. The work draws you into a strange world. "Lend Me Your Teeth" is on the menacing side.

I just ordered his brand new work What Will Be.

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