Maraqopa Maraqopa


Damien Jurado Damien JuradoMaraqopa

7.9 / 10

Marked by desperation and a profound, almost abysmal sadness, Damien Jurado's career started back in 1997, at the height of the grunge hangover (to add insult to injury, the man is from Seattle). His debut album, the still slightly hopeful album “Waters Ave S”, barely outlined what was yet to come. “Rehearsals For Departure” (1999) laid the foundations of what we could call “the Damien sound”, an anguished kind of roots folk that borrows a particular sensibility from grunge (we insist Jurado is one of those plaid shirt types) - rabidly sad, in a no future kind of way. Damien's Americana sound is somewhat experimental (he recorded an album of phone calls: “Postcards And Audio Letters”) and, until recently, painfully lo-fi (on one of his best works, “Ghost Of David”, you can hear the stool Damien sits on to sing one of his anthems, the so far almost unbeatable “Tonight I Will Retire”). He has been feeding off everything that surrounds him, starting with his experiences - the confessional tone of his songs isn't fake (like Sam Beam's), it's real. In his songs he has talked about everything, from his ardent faith (Damien was a faithful churchgoer and dedicated a record, “On My Way To Absence”, to God) to his divorce (the fabulous “Caught In The Trees”, without a doubt, his first big leap forward, somewhat blunt, like his eighth album, the conservative “And Now That I'm In Your Shadow”), and his first dates ( “Letters And Drawings”). He also devours new sounds. For example the last thing we heard from him (apart from his attempt to come out of the hole with the aforementioned “Caught In The Trees”, on which the depressed honky-tonk became nostalgic, pastoral folk) was the noisy and very un-Damien sounding “Saint Bartlett” (2010) – the result of being locked inside a room to record with Richard Swift.

That's why, when listening to “Marqopa”, the first thing we feel is that Damien is back. Although it soon becomes clear that it's not the old Damien, but a Damien who learned from the good things he'd done on “Caught In The Trees” (the refrains, the tinkling lights in the darkness, the forest wrapping around the songs) and who's ready to bet double or nothing. That's what the delicious “Life Away The Garden” sounds like (from now on, one of his highlights); shared sadness catapulted to the place where timeless songs live. Not forgetting the calm, mature and elegant “Maraqopa” (with Damien singing as if he were locked in some place far away), the ghostly and very “Ghost Of David”-like “This Time Next Year” and the everyday epic of “Reel To Reel”. “So On, Nevada” takes you straight to the time Jurado was sorry about many things he'd done (the time of, again, “Ghost Of David”), but “Museum Of Flight” goes way beyond that, playing with the falsetto (Damien's voice isn't exactly known for its flexibility, and on this track he takes more chances than ever) and with a fantastic eighties keyboard. In short, Damien's steps are small (after all, he is the kind of person who likes to stop and examine his scars), but they're recorded - as if the ground he steps on is not earth, but rather freshly laid cement. Furthermore, his steps always seem to know where they're going – for now at least.

“Nothing Is The News”

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