Devendra Banhart, "What Will We Be"

4

Devendra Banhart's major-label debut, "What Will We Be," was recorded with the same collaborators who graced his 2007 "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon." This time the quintet holed up for two months in a Northern California cabin, and the resulting collection from the idiosyncratic singer/songwriter is intimate, experimental, and ultimately accessible. The first single, "Baby," is a breezy yet bass-heavy love song about "learning to let in all the laughter," while "Chin Chin & Muck Muck" is something of a vanguard mini-review, changing acts between swinging jazz, cabaret torch and a twinkling chant. Banhart's Venezuelan childhood peeks through with Spanish lyrics on "Angelika" and "Brindo," and "Rats" is a full-fledged psychedelic-rock jam. Throughout the set, Banhart's expressive vocals are the real pleasure point; the artist may be known for his self-supported aura of knowing peculiarity, but his voice carries a frankness that-save some well-applied reverb-is gratifyingly free of modern affectation.-Evie Nagy