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CD Review: Patti Smith 

Banga (Columbia)

Patti Smith's lyrical tone and meter are the main instruments that drive her 11th album. But it's her longtime band that offers the diverse settings for the 65-year-old singer-songwriter's rich language — notably on Banga's mid-record trio featuring a punky revolutionary cry (the title track, with Television's Tom Verlaine on guitar), an intoxicating sitar-driven dip into raga-psych ("Mosaic"), and cinematic, space-faring free jazz ("Tarkovsky [The Second Stop Is Jupiter]"). The album starts slow, but the penultimate song — the epic 10-minute narrative "Constantine's Dream" — comes on like the high-relief world of 300 recast as an American fever dream. By the time Banga closes with a wonderful and faithful cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," you realize that Smith is still one hell of a force. — Chris Parker

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