Devendra Banhart has long since, lyrically, dealt in and dwelt within the surreal, and in some ways, the decidedly candid Memorial continues such a trend. It begins with the apparently veracious anecdote, “I wish you had been at your memorial/ Seen someone proposing on stage,” after all. Although Banhart has few contemporaries as readily capable of juxtaposing playful fancy (“Talking to an entity made of endless night/ I dream in TV dialogue, a world of shadow and light”) with the pained disbelief precipitated by death (“I know it don’t work that way, but maybe you’ll come back some day/ I know it don’t work like that, but maybe you can take it back”), as he creates a fine work of art at its most wonderfully artless. It’s one which is considerably less impressionistic than, say, Kantori Ongaku as he’ll recall “pretty painted tiles” on hospital walls atop little other than susurrating guitar, gently weepy string interplay and piano, but as he’ll also reminisce about “meeting all of the people [he’s] heard of from your past,” a more relatable lyrical palate ensures a more vivid, involving picture is depicted. The forthcoming album from which it’s lifted, Ma, is shaping up pretty nicely also.
Ma is available from September 13th via Nonesuch Records.