Damien Jurado is a seriously talented singer-songwriter from Seattle. That fact shouldn’t be very surprising, because all musicians are from Seattle, right?
Anyway, Damien is a musician with strong melodic gifts, a grasp of American musical history, and a highly intimate emotional quality that draws your attention in a very intense and focused way. This is traditional songcraft, unadorned, with the right amount of studio wizardry. This is evident on the first track, ‘Amateur Night’. The production is so sparse, desolate even, and Damien tells a story of addiction and violence that is simultaneously beautiful and unsettling. As the track unfolds, a quiet synth wash grows in volume, threatening to envelope and overwhelm the rest of the song.
Some of the strongest material is found in the demo tracks. The lack of production coupled with the very spare instrumentation plays some kind of trick of aural chronology on your perception, because it is very easy to forget that this guy has written this material so recently. As each of the demo tracks unfold, one is reminded that Mr. Jurado is a straight up songwriter. The material is so strong and arresting.
Some people might be turned off by the overall aesthetic, as it is very introspective and the tempos are really laid back. But, if you’re a fan of the more quiet side of Smog and you dig folk music and that genre with the stupid name, Americana, you really can’t go wrong. The emotive content will floor you.