By Devon Hannan, Features Editor
[Secretly Canadian; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Exit 353,” “A.M. AM,” “Kola”
Sub Pop Records has a knack for producing really great folk bands. However, with what seems to be the general trend, as soon as that folk band drifts away to another label, the records get progressively worse, generic, and tired. Luckily, this hasn’t been the case for Seattle songwriter Damien Jurado. Despite making music since the 90s, Jurado remains virtually unseen. If you haven’t come across him before, Visions of Us on the Land is a fine example of what the experimental folk artist is capable of.
Damien Jurado’s discography has gotten progressively more innovative as of late. His vocals are a tad looser than albums prior, mirroring a mellower version of Josh Tillman. The instrumentation stretches from Jurado’s signature, stripped down acoustic guitar found on earlier albums such as Caught in the Trees (especially on the track “Orphans in the Key of E”) to the inclusion of complex instrumentation, full of synthesizers, dense percussion, and winds. Tracks such as “QACHINA” and “A.M. AM” are tainted with these synthesizers and “Exit 353” exists beautifully in between.
Visions of Us on the Land is not the only album that appeals to both of these egos Jurado expresses, and it’s not his best either. However, just because it isn’t his best doesn’t mean it’s substantially worse than the others – not by a long shot. The album doesn’t really contain more that one track that has the potential to become a staple of his career, however, in its entirety it is still very well produced and crafted. It only further proves that he almost always delivers.
With an anticipated album almost every other year, Damien Jurado’s newest full length didn’t fall flat, nor did it exceed expectations. All in all, the album isn’t anything we didn’t see coming from Damien Jurado, but he creates a world of his own in each and every album he makes. Could this be the album that finally catapults him beside other large names in folk? Probably not, but is Jurado due for it anyway? Absolutely.