DAMIEN JURADO IS AN artist I have fallen in and out of love with over the years. Back in 1999, I’m not sure I heard a better record than his second Sub Pop album, Rehearsals For Departure (unless it was Mark Mulcahy’s Fathering), but subsequently I found the relentlessness of this lonesome-voiced Seattle-ite’s bleak visions (perhaps darkest on 2000’s Ghost Of David album but, y’know, the point is moot) somewhat sapping, yet he’s wooed me back at times, and now bless me if he’s not 11 solo studio albums old. Silver Timothy is the new Jurado “single” from next year’s 12th album, Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son, the fruit of his second successive coupling with fellow Secretly Canadian artist/producer/freelance freakazoid Richard Swift, and it is exciting in a way that I’m not sure any Damian Jurado record has ever been, even the really good ones.
Over some kind of hazed, psychotropicalista relative of Shocking Blue’s Venus, Jurado emits a spine-chilling falsetto like Canned Heat’s “Blind Owl” Wilson got himself a Curt Boettcher refit. Blustery drums and cloudy judders of never-quite-unleashed psych guitar create beautiful tensions and a swirl of choral Jurados promise epiphany. If it went on for another four minutes you wouldn’t be upset.
Meanwhile, the video by Portland, OR-based director Justin Koleszar shows various characters drawn into the American wilderness toward some kind of Close Encounters-style visitation – just the kind of weird, mystical thing that would happen in a Damien Jurado song.
As Jurado fan Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) writes in an appreciation of the former’s writerly world: “Abandoned motels, barren highways, magazine killers, Chevrolets backing out of driveways in the middle of the night, wedding photos, intoxicated hands, bleary-eyed circus clowns, barstool salvation, yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it: ‘America’. We’d all like to live there, but we don’t. No one does. We’re stuck with Jamba Juice and the internet.”
Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son, due out in the UK through Secretly Canadian on January 20, furnishes further revelations, not least the contribution of Swift, pivotal in lending new textures and musical surroundings to an artist whose colours have in the past been too dun. In an unexpectedly entertaining “album trailer” (soundtracked by more Silver Timothy), Jurado admits that he once dreaded making records. Occasionally, it sounded like it, but now that’s all in the past.
PS. Richard Swift’s Lady Luck, a haunting piece of lo-fi soul originally off his album The Atlantic Ocean (2009) is on the soundtrack to the film Drinking Buddies, alongside Night Beds, Foxygen, Richard Youngs and others. It’s out on Jagjaguwar, now.