By Ian Bremner
Much like the cover of his new record, In The Shape Of A Storm, Damien Jurado‘s songs are like his personal paintings. Each one is incredibly unique. They are not all literal. Some are metaphors, some tell a story, some are abstract. Each breath, word, light touch of a guitar string is a brush stroke with purposeful intent.
Few songwriters can claim the prolific brilliance as Jurado over the last 9 years since he first linked up with Richard Swift in 2010 to record Saint Bartlett. That doesn’t even mention his back catalog stretching back to the 1990’s with multiple Sub Pop releases. Even going back and listening in 2019, Saint Bartlett feels like a new birth for Jurado.
A lot has changed since then, of course. Jurado went on to record 3 additional albums with Swift which is known now as the Maraqopa trilogy (Maraqopa, Brothers & Sisters Of The Eternal Sun, & Visions Of Us On The Land). Their friendship and musical partnership is one of the true great collaborations in music. The Horizon Just Laughed, which came out earlier this year, was Jurado’s first self-produced album without Swift since 2010. Sadly, Swift unexpectedly died shortly after it’s release, and yet his presence can be felt all over it, to an eerily prophetic degree.
Damien Jurado has that gift about him; an aura that feels like he knows something we don’t know. Something even HE may not know. That may sound silly, but it would help explain his songwriting process, in which he often describes himself as merely a vehicle to an audience. He hardly credits himself for “writing,” but it’s as if songs just come to him and he is simply the delivery man.
In The Shape Of A Storm is completely stripped down; a human, a guitar and a voice, much like Jurado’s early roots as a spiritual folk singer. Despite Jurado leaving Seattle for the California heat, there is no single greater representative and ambassador of the region than Jurado. Though the timing is slightly ironic, it’s fitting the album is his first on Mama Bird Recording Co., a Portland label which boasts a roster of some of the premiere northwest songwriters.
There is something mystical about In The Shape Of A Storm. Listening over and over is like standing in an art gallery, staring at the same painting for 30 minutes trying to figure out what to make of it, other than knowing that you love it a lot.
In The Shape Of A Storm is out now on Mama Bird Recording Co.
Listen to In The Shape Of A Storm via spotify