Nino Rojo

Nino Rojo

Taken from the same sessions as his previous album, Rejoicing In the Hands, Nino Rojo continues Devendra Banhart’s search for his own place within the modern recording studio. Supplemented by a few friends who chant alongside the Freak Folk King and add a few touches, Nino Rojo opens with a cover of Ella Jenkins’ “Wake Up, Little Sparrow,” immediately showing off the depths of Banhart’s affections and brilliantly emphasizing his ancient folk-blues leanings. “Ay Mama” lilts along with Banhart’s trademark croon that shies further away from its Marc Bolan roots and towards its own odd affectations where vowels are lovingly exploited for the joy of their sound. “We All Know” sounds almost conventional by Banhart standards as it explodes into a rambunctious sing-a-long. “Be Kind” breaks out into a party. Yet the ghosts of the distant past make their presence felt in the quiet desperation of “My Ships,” “A Ribbon” and the child-like “Little Yellow Spider.” Banhart inhabits a world of weirdness and wonder where his friends (“Noah”) make their way into his private language that is strangely accessible to the modern world.

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