Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado’s last album, Saint Bartlett, has slowly become my favorite in his 15 year discography. That album was produced by Richard Swift and the collaboration was magical. Jurado and Swift have been sweating it out in the studio and will release Damien’s new album, Maraqopa, in February.

Don’t expect a simple folk record. Maraqopa promises to find team Jurado/Swift forging into new territory. “Nothing is News” is the first glimpse of the record and with jazzy percussion, bluesy guitar and an addictive, dark quirkiness. A promising start for 2012?

Damien Jurado – Nothing Is News

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I spoke with Tim (aka Strand of Oaks) after his set at The Earl in Atlanta the other night, and he was on top of the world. Damien Jurado recently took notice of our Strand of Oaks session and tweeted to his followers that the Strand Of Oaks cover of  “Ohio” was better than his own. “Ohio” is a song obsession for both Tim and I, (for me, dating back to my college days in Oxford, OH) so it’s only natural that we shared a mutual chubby over this tweet by Jurado.

Our  conversation went something like this (in the tone of two 14 year old girls with Bieber fever):

Tim: Can you believe Jurado tweeted that?! That was amazing!
Me: Yeah. That was awesome! I’m pumped that he was listening to music on our site!

We resisted the urge to hold hands and jump up and down screaming, but that feeling was palpable.

Shirk randomly texted a few minutes later saying he was cutting a video for “Ohio.” Here it is, along with the mp3.

Exclusive: Strand of Oaks – Ohio (Damien Jurado Cover)

In our first session with Strand of Oaks, Tim also covered Springsteen’s “Used Cars.”

Exclusive: Strand of Oaks – Used Cars (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

 

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Damien+Jurado

I’ve been a fringe fan of Damien Jurado over the years, accumulating songs here and there while becoming intermittently obsessed with certain songs like “Gillian Was a Horse” and “Ohio.” I’ve always heard good things about him – he’s been compared to Nick Drake. He’s good enough to have released albums on the Sub Pop and Secretly Canadian labels. He’s had a much-lauded solo career spanning the better part of 15 years. All of the signs were there, but somehow I never invested much time in his work.

We received Jurado’s latest album, Saint Bartlett, a couple weeks ago thanks to our friends at Secretly Canadian. Excited to finally have a full Damien Jurado album, I promptly downloaded it and pressed play. Saint Bartlett comes out of the gate with two really strong tracks. “Cloudy Shoes” opens and throws together a beautiful combination of strings, a damp yet groovy percussion, and off-kilter backing vocals that all work together so perfectly it almost hurts as Jurado sings, “Trying to work it out, I’m still trying to fix my mind.” That’s immediately followed by “Arkansas” with its twinkling keys, heavy-handed drum beat, and a hint of an acoustic guitar with Jurado’s wistful vocals. It’s amazing and, lucky for you, both can be downloaded below for free.

The rest of the album is outstanding. Standout tracks include “Beacon Hill”, “Throwing Your Voice”, and “Rachel and Cali.” After listening to all of Saint Bartlett and then going back and taking another listen to some of Jurado’s older music, I began to gain a new appreciation for him. There’s an undeniable purity to his music that knocks you off your feet. And there’s a certain longing in Jurado’s voice that I love – it’s inimitable. And I think those traits are why Jurado has had success over such a long time period – his work seems to be ever-changing, yet always incredibly pure and original. If you haven’t given a real hard listen, I encourage you to. In the meantime, whet your appetite with “Cloudy Shoes” and “Arkansas”.

Damien Jurado – Cloudy Shoes

Damien Jurado – Arkansas

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