ALBUM REVIEW: Damien Jurado – Visions Of Us On The Land

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Rating8This is the last in a trilogy of albums that Jurado has released with producer/collaborator Richard Swift and it’s as immersive, wide ranging and often fantastical as its predecessors. Swift again brings a lushness of production to Jurado’s folk songs. He adds the drama, the texture and the light psychedelia that washes over the 17 songs. The album completes the tale of an individual who has had to disappear from society in order to discover some universal truths and as such there is a narrative density which means fans and those with the patience and curiosity to undertake a masterful and magical songwriting trip will be greatly rewarded.

Chris Familton 

NEW MUSIC: Damien Jurado – Exit 353

 

DJ10Damien Jurado has a new LP called Visions Of Us On The Land coming out on March 18h via Secretly Canadian/Inertia. It once again features producer Richard Swift and carries on the themes established on the excellent preceding albums Maraqopa and Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son.

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‘Maraqopa’ the album introduced a character – deliberately unnamed, intended to represent anyone feeling that way – who stumbles upon the titular locale then gets into a car crash… which only frees him further. ‘Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son’. It picked up the narrative after the accident, in a commune inhabited by Silver TimothySilver Donna, and Silver Malcolm. ‘Visions of Us on the Land’ journeys further into the subconscious mind, a symbolic road trip spotlighting the people and towns that our central figure and his travelling companion, Silver Katherine, encounter upon leaving the commune. Hence the capitalized track titles, alluding to real American locations refracted through one’s third eye in the rear view mirror.

SONG OF THE WEEK: Damien Jurado | Nothing Is the News

 

Damien Jurado is on a roll at the moment with the recent release of his brilliant album Maraqopa, the follow-up to the equally impressive Saint Bartlett. This time around he has collaborated with Richard Swift, a great musician in his own right, and added some density and electricity to his beautifully weary songs. The duo released Other People’s Songs Volume One, an album of covers in 2010 which included songs by Bill Fay, Yes, John Denver and Kraftwerk and is well worth tracking down.

The opening track and one of the highlights of Maraqopa is this week’s Nothing Is the News, a tripped out excursion into loose limbed jazz drums and incredible bluesy psychedelic guitars that spiral, squeal and fight to be heard like a lost carnival theme tune played by Funkadelic. Jurado is the calm eye of the storm with his reverb-heavy voice drifting in and out of the mix between his main vocal lines. This is one of those songs that like one of those Doors jams that keeps delving deeper down the wormhole with mind expanding fluidity and verve.

Turn it around you found that they were all wrong
All you had heard, the ghosts of the words in a song
Nothing new have when all that you want is gone
I will never know, I will never know

You can’t go back no the door has been closed
Standing outside just passing time will we die
There’s nowhere to live and all that’s been living is gone
I will never know, I will never know

I will never know

(That’s my song)

Turn around you found that they were all wrong
All you had heard were ghosts of the words in a song
Nothing you had and all that you want is gone
I will never know, I will never know

I will never know

 

 

NEWS: Damien Jurado & Richard Swift release free album of covers…

Damien Jurado and Richard Swift got together on the weekend of August 21-22, 2010 and with the aid of a four-track cassette recorder and a Coles-4038 ribbon microphone recorded a set of covers that they wish to impart to you free of charge.

Jurado recently released the brilliant Saint Bartlett (REVIEW) while Swift’s last album The Atlantic Ocean came out last year to good reviews (REVIEW).

Check out their cover of Bill Fay’s Be Not So Fearful and grab the whole album here… Other People’s Songs

Tracklisting

  • Be Not So Fearful – Originally by Bill Fay
  • Hello Sunshine – Originally by Relatively Clean Rivers
  • Sweetness – Originally by Yes
  • Sincere Replies – Originally by Oh! Calcutta! Original Broadway Cast
  • If The Sun Stops Shinin’ – Originally by Chubby Checker
  • Follow Me – Originally by John Denver
  • Outside My Window – Originally by The Fleetwoods
  • Radioactivity – Originally by Kraftwerk
  • Crazy Like A Fox – Originally by Link Cromwell & The Zoo

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REVIEW: RICHARD SWIFT – The Atlantic Ocean

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written by Chris Familton

Secretly Canadian have had a pretty high success rate of late with releases from Antony + The Johnsons, Jens Lekman and The War On Drugs. Their most recent is The Atlantic Ocean, Richard Swift’s fourth album, and it is a bold collection of songs that take the listener on a kaleidoscopic trip through the quirkier side of pop. This time round Swift was able to call on some bigger names to work on the record with engineer Chris Colbert (The Walkmen) and multi-instrumentalist Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens) playing major roles. Cameos from Ryan Adams, Mark Ronson, Sean Lennon and Pat Sansone of Wilco show that Swift is gaining some much deserved respect among his peers.

Swift has always touched on the more poppier elements of indie music and here he dives in head first to create something widescreen and uplifting. His piano playing features throughout and carries the songs in the theatrical way that High Llamas did on their defining Gideon Gaye album. On A Song For Milton Feher he employs a bar room honky tonk style that is a pure joy to listen to with its pumping bass and squelchy synth accents. It conjures up images of summer and a certain carefree drifting of time.

Interestingly the record has an overwhelming west coast feel to it, even though it is called The Atlantic Ocean. On the title track we get a sense of the angle Swift is taking when he sings “Atlantic Ocean, you’re gonna drown, drown” and takes a a cynical swipe at the east coast scene with its “suit jacket and jeans” and “I’ve got the right LPs” and “all the money you’ll ever need”. He cleverly brings it all together over a LCD Soundsystem sounding track with Scritti Politti vocals topping it off.

Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman are definite touchstones for Swift, both in his music and his vocal style. He employs a theatrical warble at times and rides the higher pitched melodies with a 70s pure tone that could come across as a little saccharine if it wasn’t so catchy. Even when the songs are happily bouncing along there is a darker underside to many of them. On RIP Swift sings “Everyone knows when they’re gonna die” and on Hallelujah Goodnight he sings “Trouble ahead, trouble behind, trouble below”.

The First Time stands out as a highlight on the album by holding back on the piano and allowing electric guitar, strings and xylophone to paint with a more subtle and ultimately satisfying palette of sounds. The same could be said for Bat Coma Motown with its oompah band vibe and playful brass and banjo combination. The closing track Luck Luck is a dead ringer for a Motown single crossed with Queen’s Best Friend. Its bassline rolls along while a Smokey Robinson falsetto washes over the top of the vintage 60’s instrumentation. It stands out from everything on the album but it works in the context of Swift’s exploration of pop in its many forms.

On the majority of the songs on The Atlantic Ocean he successfully captures the essence of rhythm and melody, the key to the best pop music. His is a sound that emerges as refreshingly clean and simple in these times of dubstep, electro, garage rock and melancholic folk. Swift’s music will not lead him to mainstream magazine covers but it will find fans of power pop, orchestral pop and the lighter side of indie gravitating toward him.

This review first appeared on Wireless Bollinger

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