Album: Donovan

Beat Café, APPLESEED
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The Independent Culture

As the Faerie Godfather, in effect, of the new movement of whimsical "weirdo folk music" played by the likes of Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, it's fitting that Donovan should release his most satisfying album in ages just as their star is in the ascendant. His first album in eight years, Beat Café fulfils perfectly the expectations aroused by its title: most of these 12 tracks are cool bohemian ruminations, sketched in languidly oozing double bass and subtle percussive tints by the dream rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Jim Keltner, the latter also adding the gentle clunk of vibes, with producer John Chelew's keyboards fleshing out the space around Donovan's acoustic guitar and trademark vibrato susurrus. The title track is typical of the album's mood, a lovely evocation of smoky, pre-Starbucks coffee-shop ambience, a place where "the music is cool and the chicks are slow/ Poet in a beret as the sax he blow". It's the musical equivalent of a black turtleneck, shades, and a Sart

As the Faerie Godfather, in effect, of the new movement of whimsical "weirdo folk music" played by the likes of Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, it's fitting that Donovan should release his most satisfying album in ages just as their star is in the ascendant. His first album in eight years, Beat Café fulfils perfectly the expectations aroused by its title: most of these 12 tracks are cool bohemian ruminations, sketched in languidly oozing double bass and subtle percussive tints by the dream rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Jim Keltner, the latter also adding the gentle clunk of vibes, with producer John Chelew's keyboards fleshing out the space around Donovan's acoustic guitar and trademark vibrato susurrus. The title track is typical of the album's mood, a lovely evocation of smoky, pre-Starbucks coffee-shop ambience, a place where "the music is cool and the chicks are slow/ Poet in a beret as the sax he blow". It's the musical equivalent of a black turtleneck, shades, and a Sartre paperback in the hip pocket. The accompanied reading of Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" fits into the overall scheme, while Donovan's riskier gambits, such as a cloying reference to "flowers in your hair" in "Yin My Yang", are facilitated by the commanding presence of Thompson and Keltner.

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