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Folk - Released May 14, 2021 | Maraqopa Records

This is Damien Jurado's 17th album in 25 years. His chosen genre (Americana and indie folk) is known for being light on surprises and innovation, so you would think that by now this material might have started to get a little samey. But the reality is that, from the very first seconds of this new album, we find ourselves hooked. Even the title, The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, is compelling: it sounds like a Richard Brautigan novel with the cover art seemingly hinting at a whole life (or death) story. Both in its form and its content, there is nothing very new about this Damien Jurado record: there's an acoustic guitar; a rather rasping singing voice reminiscent of an ailing koala; minimalistic arrangements (a little bit of bass, percussion, an echoing second voice); simple songs; and a cosy, intimate production job. Nothing new, but nothing disappointing either. Before The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, Jurado had released all his records on the Sub Pop label. But now he has turned to self-producing his music and is seemingly relieved to have cut one more link with the industry. Damien Jurado is a craftsman, and he conceives his records as collections of short stories, written by hand in a small notebook rather than on the keyboard. For him, detail and personal touch are everything: you can hear it in the grain of his voice, the tempo, and the lyrics. These songs could have come out 25 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 20 years hence. The album creates the sensation of being in the heart of a forest or on an ocean shore: time stands still, everything is in its place, and nothing has any reason to move or change. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2008 | Secretly Canadian

Nearly 20 years into his tenure as a prominent Pacific Northwest punk-turned-beloved folk-leaning songwriter, Jurado is still perfecting his mixture of barely restrained angst and carefully strategized tranquility. CAUGHT IN THE TREES continues to evoke the ghosts of his peers, Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith, but is neither as hopeless as the former nor as vulnerable as the latter. The guitars get louder on standout tracks like “Caskets,” but the sweetness on display during “Gillian Was A Horse” and the engaging sadness laid bare on “Last Rights” (both given an even more sympathetic air by Jenny Conrad’s co-vocals) border on stunning. © TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 20, 2012 | Secretly Canadian

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 21, 2014 | Secretly Canadian

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 3, 2003 | Secretly Canadian

Booklet
Arriving just a year after the surprisingly eclectic and electric rock of I Break Chairs, Damien Jurado's Where Shall You Take Me? is something of a return -- but not a retreat -- to the moody minimalism of albums like Ghost of David. Songs like "Amateur Night" and "Omaha" share the acoustic strumming and rustic, shuffling rhythms of his earlier work, but also have a subtly polished confidence that brings out the warmth in Jurado's singing and playing as never before. The country and folk elements always present in his music come to the fore on "Abilene" and "Window," which, with its sweet, close harmonies, borrows equally from the traditions of bluegrass and hymns. A devotional thread runs through Where Shall You Take Me?, particularly on its second half, where "I Can't Get Over You" and "Tether" contrast love's complexities with deceptively simple melodies and arrangements. Overall, the album is less challenging than I Break Chairs, although "Texas to Ohio" recalls that work's Springsteen-influenced rock sound and the spooky, drum machine-driven "Intoxicated Hands" is a beautifully brooding ballad that rivals Jurado's darkest moments. While Where Shall You Take Me? might be less ambitious than its predecessor, it certainly has its own compelling charms; the album has an off the cuff, direct feel that suggests it was recorded with a few friends over the course of an afternoon, particularly on songs like "Matinee." More importantly, Jurado's singing and songwriting are affecting in virtually any setting and on any scope. Where Shall You Take Me? is a small triumph, but a triumph nonetheless. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2016 | Secretly Canadian

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2016 | Secretly Canadian

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 21, 2014 | Secretly Canadian

Folk - Released March 2, 2021 | Maraqopa Records

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Rock - Released August 1, 2006 | Sub Pop Records

In the rush to embrace the latest next-big-things, it's artists like Damien Jurado who much too often get lost in the shuffle. Once upon a time, a singer/songwriter of Jurado's depth and grace would have been anointed "the new Dylan," but today he's lucky if his brand of darkly beautiful folk-pop gets noticed at all. Rehearsals for Departure, Jurado's second full-length effort for Sub Pop, deserves a much better fate. A gifted lyricist with a comparable knack for melody, his songs are simple but remarkably affecting, with an uncanny knack for unlocking the deeper meaning in the mundane details of everyday life. Highlights like the opening "Ohio" and "Letters and Drawings" are evocative portraits of urban malaise, while the rollicking "Honey Baby" sounds like nothing so much as a long-lost honky tonk classic. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 10, 2006 | Secretly Canadian

Damien Jurado's seventh full-length -- and God knows how many singles, EPs and compilation cuts -- walks quietly in the shadow of 2005's On My Way to Absence. While the soft approach is his and his band's modus operandi, the subtle differences from recording to recording are, nonetheless, pronounced, Whereas On My Way to Absence was adorned with simple acoustic guitars and framed in everything from strings and piano, there were also some slow, light rock & roll tracks, where the band plugged in. Not so here on And Now That I'm in Your Shadow. Drums only appear on a couple of cuts, and electric guitars are almost entirely absent. Sound effects, big echo chambers, and reverb grace "Montesano," and one or two other tracks, but mostly, it's just Jurado with his acoustic guitar, a piano, and some strings. The feel is late night, on the edge of quiet, and full of pathos. Once upon a time he refrained from writing confessional material; his songs are drenched in it now, whether metaphorical or not. Jurado's storytelling skills, however, have become more sophisticated and multi-dimensional than they were before. Check "Denton, Texas," the title track, the solo acoustic "Shannon Rhodes," and "Gas Station." The slow country stroll of "There Goes Your Man," and the drum machine-driven acoustic cut "What Were the Chances," a duet with Jenna Conrad. Oh yeah, it's quiet, mopey and distinct: Jurado's way of writing distills the complicated notions of the heart into images or tiny actions: a breath, a glance, a hand moving from one place to the next on the human body, automobiles in the parking lots of truck stops. He is the king of miniature still lifes, and his voice doesn't lie. And Now That I'm In Your Shadow is sophisticated, honest, and full of gray light. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 6, 2018 | Secretly Canadian

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 21, 2012 | Secretly Canadian

Booklet
Seattle singer/songwriter Damien Jurado is one of the better examples of the somewhat invisible but very real trend of gentle folk musicians who started out in hardcore bands. Along with Mark Thousands (whose work in Youth of Today gave way to a hushed solo career), Dan Littleton (the Hated to Ida), and even Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat and Fugazi eventually mellowing into the Evens), Jurado's punk past was held in stark contrast to the spare folk dirges that marked the beginnings of his solo career in the late '90s. While hardcore and indie folk might represent two extremes, the musicians who are versed in the ethos of punk tend to have a more imaginative approach to their folk leanings than those who come up in the sleepy coffeehouse scenes. Be it production, instrumentation, or political lyrical undertones, there's a slightly different perspective that's always under the surface. This has always been the case with Jurado, whose fragile voice and stoic playing have always just barely hidden themes of pain and longing more aggressive than helpless. With his tenth studio outing, Maraqopa, Jurado offers his most colorful and nuanced set of songs yet, and while they're a far cry from hardcore, they wander into places well removed -- and far more interesting -- than his earlier wounded troubador role. Beginning with the dusty road psychedelia of "Nothing Is the News," the album takes on a vividly live feel. Meandering lead guitars and bristling drums back up Jurado's ghostly multi-tracked vocal arrangements, sounding like a modern take on '70s British folk-rock. Some of his earlier work could fall under the Americana bracket, but the far-out production of Richard Swift, reprising the collaboration he and Jurado began on 2010's Saint Bartlett, pushes the songs to their least predictable limits. Echoplex-treated anguished screams, organ swells, and the shakingly creepy children's chorus backing up every line of "Life Away from the Garden" are perhaps the opposite of typically cloying Americana. Maraqopa reaches its peak on the Phil Spector-ish "Reel to Reel." The lush production packs in dozens of disjointed sounds yet remains wide open, offering ample room for Jurado to deliver earnestly beautiful lines to his subject: a bedroom rock star offering the narrator "The greatest songs I'll ever hear from a band you started in your mind." It's a touchingly naked moment, and ironically, happening in one of the busiest arrangements on the album. Painting from a broad palette of sounds and singing from a well of strong melodies, the record works best as a whole piece, revealing new elements and deeper dynamics with subsequent listens. While Jurado's life as an angry young punk may not be apparent from his work on Maraqopa, what can be heard vividly is a bold progression that encapsulates all the phases that came before it and results in his most adventurous and fulfilling work to date. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2003 | Secretly Canadian

Arriving just a year after the surprisingly eclectic and electric rock of I Break Chairs, Damien Jurado's Where Shall You Take Me? is something of a return -- but not a retreat -- to the moody minimalism of albums like Ghost of David. Songs like "Amateur Night" and "Omaha" share the acoustic strumming and rustic, shuffling rhythms of his earlier work, but also have a subtly polished confidence that brings out the warmth in Jurado's singing and playing as never before. The country and folk elements always present in his music come to the fore on "Abilene" and "Window," which, with its sweet, close harmonies, borrows equally from the traditions of bluegrass and hymns. A devotional thread runs through Where Shall You Take Me?, particularly on its second half, where "I Can't Get Over You" and "Tether" contrast love's complexities with deceptively simple melodies and arrangements. Overall, the album is less challenging than I Break Chairs, although "Texas to Ohio" recalls that work's Springsteen-influenced rock sound and the spooky, drum machine-driven "Intoxicated Hands" is a beautifully brooding ballad that rivals Jurado's darkest moments. While Where Shall You Take Me? might be less ambitious than its predecessor, it certainly has its own compelling charms; the album has an off the cuff, direct feel that suggests it was recorded with a few friends over the course of an afternoon, particularly on songs like "Matinee." More importantly, Jurado's singing and songwriting are affecting in virtually any setting and on any scope. Where Shall You Take Me? is a small triumph, but a triumph nonetheless. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Dance - Released October 17, 2014 | Columbia

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Pop - Released April 11, 2006 | Sub Pop Records

Another strong collection of urban folk songs from Damien Jurado, Ghost of David builds on the gentle, friendly loneliness of Rehearsals for Departure and deepens it with a spiritual, often otherworldly feel. With the notable exception of "Paxil"'s bedroom-crafted rock, the album casts a reflective, melancholy spell, especially on "Great Today," "Tonight I Will Retire," "Walk With Me," and "Ghost in the Snow." However, Jurado lets rays of hope shine through on "Johnny Go Riding" and the title track, and songs like "Medication" and "Desert" showcase his conversational lyrics and delivery. A sweetly earnest version of "Rosewood Casket" adds another dimension to this contemplative, compelling album, which is Jurado's finest work yet. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 18, 2006 | Sub Pop Records

While Damien Jurado's fans already know what an accomplished and thoughtful singer/songwriter he is, on I Break Chairs, he also proves that he can rock with the best. With his band Gathered in Song (named after one of his EPs), Jurado puts his finely crafted lyrics in a completely different setting, matching his wound-up emotions with cranked-up guitars. But the most impressive thing about I Break Chairs isn't just that Jurado proves he can rock, it's that he can rock in a variety of ways and sound equally convincing, whether it's the rousing roots rock of "Paperwings"; the jangly, early-'80s college rock-inspired "Birdcage"; or the elliptical, Pixies-eqsue punk-pop of "The Way You Look." I Break Chairs also features a diverse yet cohesive production that spans the bright, power-poppy sheen of "Big Deal" to the brooding, lo-fi "Dancing," which sounds like it was recorded in a dive. Likewise, the album showcases a wider range of emotions than any of Jurado's previous work. While beautiful, heartbreaking ballads like "Never Ending Tide," "Inevitable" and "Like Titanic" are par for the course for Jurado, an optimistic, even uplifting tone -- epitomized by "Parade" and "Lose My Head" -- runs through the album, making it as emotionally deep as it is musically diverse. Though it's not exactly a typical release for Jurado, I Break Chairs sets a new standard for his work. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 2005 | Secretly Canadian

On My Way to Absence continues on the similar delicate path that Jurado paved starting with Where Shall You Take Me?, with subtle differences. Jurado seems to broaden his palette with which to express this dark business of life on On My Way to Absence -- lush strings swirl underneath tracks like "White Center" and "Night Out for the Downer," while the use of minimal electronics, keyboards, and samples creeps up on tracks like "Big Decision" and "A Jealous Heart Is a Heavy Heart." All of this is sequenced next to the stripped-down and melancholy rock tracks that Jurado is known for, the dark confessional "Fuel" and the raw "I Am the Mountain" being the best examples. On My Way to Absence offers many new areas of musical exploration, suggesting a more mature arranger in Damien Jurado mingling with the wonderfully sad storyteller and vivid landscape painter that he is already known for on previous releases. © Francis Arres /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2011 | Secretly Canadian

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Rock - Released August 1, 2006 | Sub Pop Records

Seattle native Damien Jurado's first album is an impressive debut that was sadly overlooked by many people still caught up in the hype of the celebrated Sub Pop Records and the aftermath left from the grunge era. While Jurado is responsible for writing hundreds of songs on his own, he chose 13 to make the cut for this album. Many are silly, dealing with topics such as purple anteaters or the circus. Others cry out as therapy for Jurado, trying to reconcile his parent's painful divorce or the feeling of being independent from a recent relationship. Still others are just fictional stories, woven by this man who is known in certain indie folk circles as a master storyteller. Taking jangly guitars and Jurado's awkward, yet soothing crooning, along with steady drumming and a host of other instruments, Waters Ave S. is silky smooth in its delivery and rarely comes up short. While not entirely similar to his later works, on its own, Waters Ave S. is a special treat that deserves a listen. © Kurt Morris /TiVo