REVIEW FOR GOLDFLAKEPAINT: Damien Jurado | Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
31. January 2014
Damien Jurado | Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son
by Katie Malcolmson
Relentlessly releasing truck loads of brilliantly crafted Americana folk rock songs, Damien Jurado is now ELEVEN whole albums in to his song-writing career. Some artists don’t even have eleven SONGS in them, never mind eleven albums. Jurado is known to many as a sort of roaming troubadour – a wise yet lost soul, armed only with a guitar, a way with words and a plaid shirt. Yet Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is a psychedelic leap away from Jurado’s many offerings of this ilk so far.
Where Jurado toyed with experimental rock undercurrents and perhaps slightly more hopeful themes on 2012’s Maraqopa, Brothers and Sistersmaps out brave new territory, tapping into something Jurado has merely suggested in his music in the past. Echoing sentiments from Maraqopa throughout, the Richard Swift collaborative album is far more abstract and conceptual than Jurado’s previous inward and confessional hits such as the (awesomely) embittered and hopeless song ‘Sheets’ and country-folk track ‘Abilene’ from earlier albums.
Brothers and Sisters exudes the essence of the free-lovin’, flower power ‘60s, like Jefferson Airplane crossed with Crosby, Stills and Nash and Buffalo Springfield. You know; a hippies-tripping-out-on-LSD kind of vibe. (And I had to use the word ‘vibe’ because I’m talking about ‘60s psychadelia.) Jurado’s performance at End Of The Road festival last year was an intimate one – just a guy with a guitar sat on a chair, centre stage, telling stories and breaking hearts. If that happened to be your first experience of him, then you wouldn’t think this album was created by the same person. The record is about leaving home, going on a journey, never to return again. And the music is as dramatic as the concept. Moving through moods of positivity and excitement almost, to calm, and at times downright lost – the lyrics are almost unimportant as the music carries the listener through the journey expertly.
Opener Magic Number possesses a moody energy with spacey vocals and a broken drum loop with a soft experimental percussive breakdown. It sets the tone for what is to come – a far less intense album than what we’ve come to expect of Jurado. Return to Maraqopa is an infectious, hook-laden drone, with sounds that are almost impossible to place, while Metallic Cloud is slightly more in-keeping with Jurado’s older sound – a brushed guitar, a falling piano and clear as a bell yet cracked vocals. Jericho Road is a highlight – distorted vocals, howls of anguish and hopelessness and a slow paced heavy drum, the whole thing cleverly evokes imagery of someone trudging through the desert at sunset, with no end in sight.
However, Jurado picks up the pace again on Silver Donna, a track absorbed in groove and funk, with falsetto vocals almost reminiscent of ‘60s era Bee Gees. The song breaks into a syncopated prog section, with layered reverb soaked vocals and a percussive freak out.
Silver Katherine and Silver Joy reek of Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’, and that is meant very positively. They are both stunning, meandering laments – Americana folk at its absolute best. Seriously, you will not find two better Americana songs in 2014, and I predict this with a great amount of certainty. Even if psychedelic, trippy concept albums aren’t your thing, this album is still better than everything else out there right now, purely because of these two glorious songs.
Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son certainly goes to great lengths to escape convention, it’s a unique and carefully crafted affair, yet it is still a wonderfully loose and free experience. It’s truly a record to get lost in, without getting bogged down in emotion – a brave curve for Damien Jurado.