Seated in a chair, dressed in plain clothes, and singing with his eyes closed, Jurado doesn't have an ounce of rock star pretension. He's not in this profession to make money or meet girls. Listening to his fingerplucked songs, though, you get the idea that this is something Jurado has to do. While other crooners write earnest love songs, Jurado specializes in dark, confessional material. This is the singer's outlet - perhaps the only way that he can purge himself of melancholic feelings - and his emotional catharsis is our listening pleasure.
On album, Jurado's guitar-and-voice combo is underscored by light strings and minimal electronics. Here, his wistful voice is front and center, backed only by his own guitar, Eric Fisher's pitter-patter drums, and Jenna Conrad's harmonies and cello lines. Such singer/songwriters are part of a long tradition, one that spans the entire lifetime of the acoustic guitar, and Jurado is more than qualified to carry on the torch.
Urban folk singer/songwriter Damien Jurado quietly built up one of the strongest catalogs on the indie scene, earning high critical praise yet somehow never quite getting his proper due. Nick Drake had a definite impact on much of his work, but Jurado modeled his career on more idiosyncratic, unpredictable figures like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, or Randy Newman — songwriters who followed their own muse wherever it took them, whether fans and critics agreed or not. His independent-mindedness was born at least in part from the influence of punk, and one of the results was a concern for emotional authenticity that led him to delve into other people's lives instead of his own. Many of Jurado's best songs spun concise, literate tales of quiet everyday despair, which often earned him comparisons to short story writer Raymond Carver. But his storytelling bent — not to mention his ambivalence toward confessional material - arose from a stronger grounding in traditional folk than spiritual compatriots like Elliott Smith or Cat Power. And with detours into pop, roots rock, full-fledged electric indie rock, and even found-sound experiments, Jurado ensured that his body of work was impossible to completely pin down.