Damien Jurado's new record, Saint Bartlett, is refreshingly pleasant for two reasons: the first is that is sounds like something from the past that you have known and loved. This is not to say that it is derivative necessarily, but that it draws from many sources in the best possible way. The second is that the soothing voice of lead singer and songwriter Jurado makes everything sound beautiful, calm, and at peace. These two are intertwined; some say that Damien Jurado is reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright, M. Ward, or even Will Oldham, with a bit of Neil Young-style songwriting mixed in. He is all of that, it is true, but has own his unfaltering take on what it is to be a singer-songwriter-performer.

 

Jurado's personal musical style has been perfected through time and experience in the music industry. This is his ninth full length, and his fifth for the midwestern Label Secretly Canadian. It is also happens to be my personal favorite. Nothing of Jurado's I have listened to in the past has had much of an impact, and even revisiting his previous albums doesn't do much for me. Saint Bartlett, however, was gripping upon first listen. This might perhaps be due to the welcome musical addition of the Saint Bartlett Band (an eight member orchestra comprised of members from Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground) to flesh out Jurado's sometimes stark sound.

Listen to "Arkansas" - DOWNLOAD MP3