Folk artist gets nostalgic in new project

ape-in-pink-marble-coverAn album about nostalgia, “Ape in Pink Marble,” leaves listeners longing for places they have never been to and people they have never met.

“Ape in Pink Marble” is freak folk artist Devendra Banhart’s ninth studio album and features 13 tracks.

It succeeds in transporting listeners to a simpler place, both in time and setting.

The album is made up of instrumental soundscapes, filled with 1970s influence, that are irresistibly smooth and soulful.

These experimental soundscapes are paired with Banhart’s earnest and nostalgic lyrics, creating a sense of warmth and familiarity.

Banhart frequently alludes to the 70s predecessors he’s invoking. “Jon Lends a Hand” is an ode to Jonathan Richman, frontman of The Modern Lovers. Banhart sings over simple guitar chords, “Oh Jonathan, Jonathan/These are your chords.”

“Souvenirs,” a song filled with lovesick longing, opens with, “Welcome to the hotel in California,” referencing The Eagles’ 1976 tune.

The album ends with two slow ballads in the 70s tradition, including “Linda,” a track with slow guitar and moody lyrics. Banhart sings, “I’m a lonely woman / alone in the world / drifting through time.”

Listeners can pinpoint influences and references in the instrumentals. They are given a heightened meaning when combined with Banhart’s sentimental lyrics about memory, as if he wishes to return to a specific time period of music.

Two upbeat tracks that will make listeners want to dance, “Fancy Man” and “Fig in Leather,” are exceptions to the albums mellow tone.  

 “Ape in Pink Marble” is “thematically based on the idea of these tunes being what you’d hear at a hotel in a peculiar part of Tokyo,” Banhart said in an interview with British newspaper The Observer in 2016.

Banhart takes everyday, mundane moments and makes them beautiful and worth noticing. The album will inspire listeners to find what is wonderful in the trivial.

“Ape in Pink Marble” was released Sept. 23,  by Nonesuch Records.