I’ve been listening to the new Patti Smith album for the past two days and my initial enthusiasm for Banga has only grown stronger. At first I thought my lust for a Smith album that knocked me sideways like Horses was coloring my take on this new one, but I think I can fairly objectively say it is the second or third best album of Patti Smith’s career.
Smith’s voice has never been finer and, unlike many of her albums after Easter, Banga is full of lovely melodies and hooks. Lyrically, the album follows in the spirit of Smith’s memoir Just Kids: ruminative, prayerful, melancholic and hopeful - a delicate, tough and occasionally fierce expression from a spiritual warrior moving forward with grace and determined soulfulness.
Banga was produced by Smith at Electric Lady Studios (where Horses was recorded in 1975) and features her group (Lenny Kaye, Jay Daugherty and Tony Shanahan) in stellar form. Tom Verlaine provides some shards of psychedelia to two tracks and there’s some drumming and guitar work from Johnny Depp on the title track.
For fans of rock legends who still deliver the goods, Neil Young has added Smith to his tour schedule. The Patti Smith Group will open for Young in these cities:
Nov. 23 – Montreal, Quebec, Bell Centre
Nov. 24 – Ottawa, Ontario, Scotiabank Place
Nov. 26 – Boston, Mass., TD Garden
Nov. 27 – New York City, N.Y., Madison Square Garden
Nov. 29 – Philadelphia, Pa., Wells Fargo Center
Nov. 30 – Fairfax, Va., Patriot Center
Dec. 4 – Bridgeport, Conn., Webster Bank Arena
The following video was shot at Detroit Institute of Arts where an exhibition of Smith’s photographs is taking place concurrent with the addition of her late husband’s, Fred “Sonic” Smith, guitar to the museum’s collection.
The song “April Fool” is the opening track of Banga. Accompanying Patti are her son and daughter, Jackson and Jesse.