As its title suggests, the 13-track effort has something of an underlying familial theme. Ma addresses the “unconditional nature of maternal love, the desire to nurture, the passing down of wisdom, the longing to establish the relationship of mother to child, and the consequences of that bond being broken,” according to a statement.
Much of this subject matter can be traced back to Banhart’s own connection to his motherland of Venezuela, which has been plagued by poverty. The freak-folk songwriter elaborated:
“My brother is in Venezuela, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. They are just holding their breath, in gridlock standstill.There’s this helplessness. This place that has been a mother to you, that you’re a mother to as well, and it’s suffering so much. There is nothing you can do but send out love and remain in that sorrowful state.”
Ma came together with the help of Grammy-winning producer and longtime associate Noah Georgeson after the two were invited to record in an old, esteemed temple in Kyoto. They later completed the recording process at 64 Sound and Sea Horse Studios in Los Angeles and Anderson Canyon in Big Sur.
Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon appears on a song called “Now All Gone”, while Banhart’s mentor and close friend Vashti Bunyan contributes to LP closer “Will I See You Tonight”. Drawing on Banhart’s roots, three of the album’s 13 tracks are in Spanish, one in Portuguese.
To preview Ma, Banhart is sharing lead single “Kantori Ongaku”. Japanese for “country music”, the song nods to influential Japanese musician Haruomi Hosono. Check it out via its official video, directed by Giraffe Studios.
Pre-order the album here. Peep the artwork, an oil painting by Banhart himself, and the full tracklist below.
01. Is This Nice?
02. Kantori Ongaku
06. Now All Gone
07. Love Song
08. Abre Las Manos
09. Taking a Page
10. October 12
11. My Boyfriend’s in the Band
12. The Lost Coast
13. Will I See You Tonight?
To support the new record, Banhart will embark on a North American tour beginning in September. Grab tickets here.
Devendra Banhart 2019 Tour Dates:
09/27 – Dana Point, CA @ Ohana
10/15 – Ventura, CA @ The Majestic Ventura Theater
10/16 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
10/18 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
10/19 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre
10/20 – Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall ^
10/22 – Berkeley, CA @ The UC Theatre
10/24 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ace Hotel
10/25 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Yost Theater
10/26 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory
10/27 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
10/30 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theater *
11/01 – Omaha, NE @ The Slowdown *
11/02 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater *
11/03 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *
11/05 – Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone *
11/07 – Austin, TX @ Levitation
11/23 – Leon, MX @ Tecate Bajio Festival
11/30 – Detroit, MI @ Museum of Contemporary Art *
12/01 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall *
12/03 – Montreal, QC @ The Olympia *
12/04 – Boston, MA @ The Wilbur *
12/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
12/07 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
12/08 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer *
* = w/ Black Belt Eagle Scout
^ = w/ Daniel Higgs