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Damien Jurado - Silver and Gold
on 20 January 2014
Damien Jurado's new album has the intriguing title "Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun" and six songs that start with the word "Silver". You could be forgiven for thinking that Jurado renown for his solo singer-songwriting skills has been spending too much time listening to the Flaming Lips. There is however in this album enough to satisfy those who long to hear his brilliant acoustic simplicity and also those who have come to relish the sort of diversity that has been evident on his more recent albums produced by Richard Swift not least 2012's "Maraqopa". Jurado tells us that there is a subplot to BASOTES "about a guy who disappears on a search, if you will, for himself and never goes home." This doesn't set this reviewer pulses racing thus let us judge this album on the quality of the songs and not the concept.
Opener "The Magic Number" is jazzy and high on ghostly atmospherics. It grows on repeated listens and is a powerful start. It is the almost Latino rhythmic single "Silver Timothy" which really sets the ball rolling as great Jurado song is unveiled with sparkling guitar solo leading it to a suitable conclusion. Sadly "Return to Maraqopa" is a bit of slog on first listens although perseverance may pay dividends. Much better is the piano lament "Metallic Cloud" the first of a range of haunting slow songs where the album's highlights are contained. Indeed the last two songs "Silver Katherine" and "Silver Joy" return to the Damien Jurado of "Caught in trees" and are both sublime ballads. The simplicity of the latter echoes the laidback ambience of a song like "Ohio", and its pleading refrain of "Do not disturb, me let me be" is haunting. The watery lines of "Silver Malcolm" sound initially like something out of the Nick Drake songbook but mutates with bold sweeping synths punctuating it throughout. The longest song on the album is "Silver Donna" at over six minutes which has a feel of the early San Francisco psychedelic pioneers Quicksilver Messenger Service with its extended pulsating surge.
All in all, there is enough in this fine album to satisfy all shades of Jurado's fan base. This reviewer does openly prefer the sparse acoustics, but the experimentation contained within is commendable and both Swift and Jurado are to be congratulated on their continued pursuit of musical discovery and excellence.