Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 34
  2. Negative: 2 out of 34
  1. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is many things--perhaps too many things, but its successes outnumber its failures, and it essentially solves the problems inherent in confining a freeform singer to time signatures and arrangements and rhythms imposed by outsiders.
  2. it's great to hear Banhart playing outside of type, and the swagger and muscle occasionally at work suit him surprisingly well.
  3. On fifth album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon the cast expands again to include erstwhile Strokes guitarists and movie stars, and at points you’re left pining for the eccentric acoustic phrasings of yore.
  4. This is Devendra Banhart...eclectic and whimsical and poking genres with a stick to see if they'll bite. It's a little mad, a lot overstuffed, and probably a degree or two calculated.
  5. Entertainment Weekly
    At 72 minutes, his fifth release is too long and needlessly precious at times. [28 Sep 2007, p.106]
  6. For aficionados of his gnomic genius, and there are many, this new collection provides further reasons to invest time and money in his eclectic works.
  7. The main problem with '...Thunder Canyon' though is it's long - 72 minutes long - which suggests when Banhart let his muse fly free, he forgot to keep a check on his ego, too. At its best, this is subtle, touching, beautiful. At its worst, it's meandering and smug. You're entertained, but unsettled.
  8. Rather than the thoughtful songcraft and inspired peformances of Banhart's pre-Roberts Young God recordings, what you hear now is the zoned-out noodling of someone who foolishly believes his own genius hype.
  9. 'My Dearest Friend' ("I am going to die of loneliness I know / I am going to die of loneliness for sure") is among the most tender tunes that Banhart has produced.
  10. It's not so much that the quality varies, but that a bloated, lethargic feel permeates the record.
  11. On Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, however, Banhart comes across as an attention whore; the mannered, look-what-I-can-do kook act overshadows his actual talent.
  12. Banhart's efforts to expand himself have left him woefully unable to play to his strengths in the rare occasions he bothers with them.
  13. The consistently laudable performances and production of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon make for something that appears effortless and remains engaging throughout its 70-plus-minute runtime.
  14. Spin
    This is Barnhart's least discursive outing yet. As a result, it's also his most predictable. [Oct 2007, p.108]
  15. Mojo
    'I Remember' and 'My Dearest Friend' are intimate, sad and soft.... More songs like these, and he would have a classic album on his hands. [Oct 2007, p.98]
  16. 80
    When it ends, the impression of Devendra Banhart that stays with you is of the artful songsmith, finding a confidence to express himself in something other than riddles.
  17. On his fifth album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, Banhart embraces his role as a poet and a jester in equal measure.
  18. Banhart's voice is insurmountable. When he's mugging up, it's unbearable; when he's not, it's unmemorable.
  19. There's nothing minimal about the music, which is cleanly produced, smartly textured hippie shamble.
  20. Blender
    Coherence dissolves over the album's spawl of 72 minutes and 16 songs. Barnhart can still be quietly metaphysical now and then, yet too often he settles for a less lovable tie-dyed legacy: cutsiness. [Oct 2007, p.106]
  21. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is a feel good record for what's left of this 'summer' and even though it's packed with second hand magic and joy, such charms probably won't wear past the depths of winter, unless you truly are a hippy at heart.
  22. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is another very fine achievement in the still young, but immensely satisfying and always intriguing, career of Devendra Banhart.
  23. His lyrics, a strength in the past (most notably on 'Oh Me Oh My'), seem just plain tossed off, when they're in English, and he seems caught between tuning in and dropping out.
  24. The Wire
    Only after wading through the swamp to the final three tracks do we get anything approaching sincerity, albeit of a cloying kind. [Oct 2007, p.55]
  25. Alternative Press
    You may need subtitles to truly grasp the psychedelic splendor of Devendra Banhart's Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. [Nov 2007, p.174]
  26. Smokey Rolls down Thunder Canyon may be his best so far.
  27. Q Magazine
    Intriguing though Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is, it remains unclear how he and his peculiar talent will thrive out there. [Oct 2007, p.104]
  28. Smokey is lengthy, as are all of Banhart’s albums, but make it to the last track and the reward is reminiscent of Banhart’s infallible 2004 album, "Rejoicing in the Hands."
  29. This trippy collection spans Brazilian Tropicalia, '60s psychedelia, classic rock, blissed-out pop, gospel, and a new genre that might be called Hebrew doo-wop--a ridiculous range of styles, but one that works under Banhart's expansive, expressive umbrella
  30. Under The Radar
    Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, his fifth proper album, is perhaps Banhart’s most frustrating album to date. [Fall 2007, p.78]
  31. With big choruses, pristine production values, sing-alongs, and much lovelorn balladry could it be that Devendra Banhart is about to cross over?
  32. Magnet
    The more he pushes these various personas, the less sense we expect him to make and the more rewarding he becomes. [Fall 2007, p.90]
  33. 74
    Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon is like ten Van Dyke Parks song cycles ground into mush.
  34. Sure, Banhart executes the truncated verse spectacularly, but he doesn't give his listeners enough time to love him.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 33 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. Apr 14, 2013
    After "Cripple Crow", Devendra takes the inevitable turn into psychedelic rock and it certainly is a hard turn. For those who endure, however,After "Cripple Crow", Devendra takes the inevitable turn into psychedelic rock and it certainly is a hard turn. For those who endure, however, the satisfaction is the greatest. All in all, a fine album that bridges the change from "Rejoicing In The Hands" (which was kinda trippy already) to "What Will We Be". Full Review »
  2. Apr 2, 2011
    Feels a bit directionless and seems to be an experiment. The songs don't really fit as a whole- Lover is a fabulous song, but is completelyFeels a bit directionless and seems to be an experiment. The songs don't really fit as a whole- Lover is a fabulous song, but is completely out of place. Individually, all the songs are great, especially the salient Shabop Shalom and the playful Tonada Yanomanista, but as a collective, it's a bit jolty and uncertain. Full Review »
  3. Gus
    Dec 12, 2007