Damien Jurado is pretty prolific recording more-or-less and album a year since 1997. He may have just hit on a formula to make them more quickly, however. His new album In The Shape Of A Storm took just two hours to complete. Stripped of the hefty production of recent albums and the atmospherics of his early work, this is just Jurado’s voice and guitar. Should be good, then!
Vinyl LP £18.49 VJLP248
LP on Loose.
CD £11.49 VJCD248
CD on Loose.
Why spend years concocting a stellar ambitious album such as Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son when you can just knock out an acoustic album in a couple of hours? Honestly most people won't even notice.
But I do. Damien Jurado went from lo-fi troubadour to stellar cosmic songcrafter and back again. After a series of impressive albums he's stripped everything back to basics and by the looks of the sleeve he's cobbled that together in about five minutes. In any situation Jurado is a fine songwriter so an album of him strumming his guitar and singing is generally just fine. He has a fine voice that is quite soft but just with that little bit of grit. Newspaper Gown is particularly affecting and heartbreaking in its honesty. What a lovely, lovely song. He has a sort of everyman turn of phrase that cuts to the chase more often than not - he is a storyteller, a wordsmith and you find yourself hanging on his every word.
There's something of the Nebraska and at a stretch Pink Moon in this stark simple work but taken as a whole it needs a little more colour and variation to work as an album rather than a collection of Damien Jurado songs played solo and unplugged.
9/10 Richard 12th April 2019
Clinton makes a fair point in his review that it seems rather odd for Damien Jurado to release such a lo-fi record after the trilogy of albums put out on Secretly Canadian that were very big in their sound and ambition. But a change of label, to UK stable Loose, is a good idea, and the LP is really rather lovely, if a little on the short side at just 28 minutes.
If you come to this LP with no expectations then you are more likely to find reward. 'Lincoln' is a lovely opener, and reminds me of Jason Molina's solo work as does 'Silver Ball' with it's reference to the moon, both with a dusky feel to proceedings. 'Newspaper Gown' is more upbeat, but retains the intimacy found throughout the LP, as does another album highlight 'Where You Want Me To Be'.
Overall this album sits nicely side by side with Will Oldham's lovely 'Songs Of Love And Horror' as a thoughtful and heartfelt singer-songwriter record that is stripped right back. Perfect for winter nights whilst warming yourself by the fire.
6/10 RobF 2nd April 2019
As a huge fan of Damien Jurado since seeing his first UK tour when he released Rehearsals For Departure 20 years ago I was quite pleased to see he ditched the big production of the last few albums, as it felt like he'd taken that style as far as he could. That said, to go back to a straight guitar & voice live session take is a bold move. But this is his default setting - most gigs tend to be just him and his guitar, and he can hold an audience in the palm of his hand with his tender delivery. So first of all the songs have to be good - and they largely are, although it's strange to see at least one track (Lincoln) is a retread of a fairly average song he first gave away on a tour CDR in much the same stripped down format. Hard to believe that for someone usually so prolific that he's resorted to old songs. Still - I think the biggest weakness of the album will come to be it's longevity. I can't imagine listening to the this one over and over like I have some of his others. There simply isn't the usual depth of things to discover. Maybe by the time you've read this review he will have recorded the next album...
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- In The Shape Of A Storm by Damien Jurado
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