DAMIEN JURADO

Damien Jurado by Vikesh Kapoor

Spend any amount of time with Damien Jurado and he’s going to talk with you about movies. Speaking about the films that influenced his 14th album, the solitary masterwork In the Shape of a Storm, Jurado tosses out a list of favourites—American Graffiti, Paris, Texas, The Last Picture Show—films in which settings serve as silent, omniscient characters. But inquire about the curious way he writes songs, the hazy manner by which he seems to channel them from beyond the beyond, and the cinematic reference point he reaches for is a surprising one. “You ever see that movie Ghost? Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Oda Mae Brown—that’s who I am. These spirits are showing up at her door, jumping into her body. That’s how I feel. I don’t know what’s coming out of me…I just show up and deliver it.”

 

For more than two decades, Jurado has sung folk songs brimming with prophetic imagination. Whether singing ballads about killers, wounded lovers, UFO cults, or yes, the phantoms of departed friends, he’s populated his work with eerie foretelling, the sense that he’s divining something just on the verge of happening. He wrote his last record, 2018’s The Horizon Just Laughed as a goodbye letter to his home of Seattle, Washington, before he’d even decided to leave there for sunny Los Angeles. And while he recorded the ten songs featured on In the Shape of a Storm months before the passing of his longtime collaborator and close friend Richard Swift, it’s no coincidence that Swift’s death looms over the album. “His absence is very much felt on this record,” Jurado says.

 

Damien has always worked fast, but In the Shape of a Storm came together with unprecedented speed. Recorded over the course of two hours one California afternoon, it’s Jurado’s sparsest album to date. Gone are the thundering drums and psychedelic arrangements that defined the trilogy of concept albums he made with Swift. Gone even is the atmospheric air that hovered above his early albums for Sub Pop. Here, there’s only Jurado’s voice, acoustic guitar, and occasional accompaniment from Josh Gordon, playing a high-strung guitar tuned Nashville style, rendering its sound spooky and celestial. Though fans have long requested a solo acoustic album, the prospect never made sense to Jurado, until one day it simply did. “It just felt like it was time,” Jurado says. The idea of an unadorned album became its own medium in his mind, like a painter who sets down his brushes and instead opts for charcoal pencils instead.

 

“There is nothing left to hide,” Jurado sings on “Lincoln,” which opens the record. It’s something of a thesis statement for these songs. Everything here is clear and laid bare, two-tone, like the drawing Jurado crafted for the record’s cover. Originally written for 2000’s The Ghost of David, “Lincoln” was shelved and forgotten about until Damien came across it on an old cassette tape. The discovery inspired him to go about gathering up songs that had never found proper homes. As a result, In the Shape of a Storm is like an archive of previously abandoned songs. And yet, despite their disparate nature, Jurado’s visions hang together in curiously symmetrical ways: the moon shines in both the echo-drenched “Silver Ball” and closer “Hands on the Table”; rain ties the title song to the lilting “Oh Weather.” Jurado repeatedly returns to oceanic poetry—waves, tides, and shores—and to the theme of anchors, the metaphorical ones we use to tether ourselves to the sea floor and to each other. These are songs about the enormity of the unknown — the shape of storms that threaten to swallow us whole— and above all, they are songs about the connections that keep us from drifting away. “We are not meant to be on our own,” Jurado sings on “Throw Me Now Your Arms.”

 

Damien Jurado’s discography is filled with songs written as miniature movies, cinematic vignettes that capture people, the places they are from, and where they are going. In the Shape of a Storm is his first black and white picture. It’s both a snapshot of two hours in a California recording studio and a document spanning 19 years and a life of music. It is the sound of a singer pouring out possible futures and visions. “I believe songs have their own time and place,” Jurado says. For these ten, that time has finally come.

In the Shape of a Storm (2019)

Photo credit: Vikesh Kapoor

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In The Shape Of A Storm

DamienJurado_ITSOAS_RGB-3000-lores (1)

Artist: Damien Jurado

Title: In The Shape Of A Storm

Release date: 12 April 2019

Catalogue no.: VJCD248

Formats: CD/ Heavyweight LP / Digital

  1. Lincoln
  2. Newspaper Gown
  3. Oh Weather
  4. South
  5. Throw Me Now Your Arms

 

  1. Where You Want Me to Be
  2. Silver Ball
  3. The Shape of a Storm
  4. Anchors
  5. Hands on the Table

In The Shape Of A Storm (2019)

“an intimate, yet romantic affair that swoons with love and longing as its starkly beautiful tunes gently weave across a tender emotional spectrum.” BBC 6 MUSIC ALBUM OF THE DAY”
BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC

A gorgeous and gutting return to Jurado’s Rehearsals For Departure-era roots, wandering and bare, wielding only guitar and voice
8/10
UNCUT

“In the past, Jurado has invested in high concepts—he’s sang of aliens and the cosmos and killers. But here he sings from his life, of concrete moments where place often sets the scene. The words are so close it feels like a conversation, breath steaming windows or cooling coffee. “There is nothing to hide,” he proclaims in album opener “Lincoln,” a sentiment that speaks to the album writ large. In The Shape of a Storm lingers on the bare moments, when the buzzing world around all but fades away.” “…Recounting his highs and lows with stark clarity, Jurado has never been more resonant.”
PITCHFORK

“This is folk music beamed in from somewhere familiar, but wholly unique to Jurado… A beautiful record”
★★★★
SHINDIG

Simply heavenly
★★★★½
ROLLING STONE DEUTSCHLAND

“Jurado has enough experience under his belt to wrangle every ounce of emotion out of [just his voice and his guitar].”
“In The Shape Of A Storm…is his most intimate, direct collection of songs yet” – “[Throw Me Now Your Arms is a] lyrically direct, lovely, open-hearted pledge of dedication and devotion.”
STEREOGUM

“Spare, brutal beauty…It’s a moving record, where Jurado invites you to sit in the eye of the storm. It’s where you want to be.”
★★★★
THE IRISH TIMES

“raw, dramatic and emotional”
★★★★
SCOTTISH DAILY EXPRESS

“some of the sweetest songs Damien Jurado has ever recorded”
“a secret treasure for those who know Damien Jurado. Yes it’s stripped back, yes it’s quiet, yes Damien Jurado’s voice is an antique unlikely to trouble your average Solange fan – but maybe that’s the point”
★★★★
THE SKINNY

“Intimate and vulnerable, “In the Shape of a Storm” is a delicate highlight of Jurado’s career.”
THE DAILY MAIL

★★★★
THE LINE OF BEST FIT

“it would seem Jurado has finally found a shore on which to set anchor and land, the fact that he wrote these songs many years ago fittingly echoing the sense of waiting for time to unfold its plans”
FOLK RADIO

“an acoustic excursion into some elegant shadows”
PROG MAGAZINE

“The work of an acoustic troubadour in its rawest, most intimate and stripped down form… utterly spellbinding.”
SOUTHERN DAILY RECORD

“Timeless…Sublime closer Hands On The Table is as good as it gets”
★★★★
NARC

“a completely open account of its writer’s thoughts and emotions, presented in a form where there is nowhere to hide. And boy, does it deliver. It is an absolute triumph.”
SECRET MEETING

“a mesmerizing acoustic realm, with Jurado’s brilliant voice and lyrics coming to the forefront”
ECHOES AND DUST

“his imagery as evocative as ever… balm to the soul”
FOR FOLKS SAKE

“spartan arrangements of just acoustic guitar and vocal leave him naked and exposed, creating a sense of intimacy between performer and listener”
BUZZ MAGAZINE

The songs often sound wonderfully unpolished, but never unfinished and fascinate with the same beauty with which Jurado also inspires with his live solo performances.
5/6
WESTZEIT

“After nearly twenty years of resting in his very own niche, Damien Jurado is still one of the most underrated songwriters. How flawlessly these songs float into, and resonate with each other is the exact magic of Damien Jurado‘s songwriting. Once in it, you’ll hardly find out again.”
NBHAP

“A wonderful, especially reduced folk record… as if he had remembered the back-to-the- basics recordings of Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash. A highly gripped comparison, but Jurado reaches a rarely heard intensity”
5/6
MUSIKEXPRESS

“The late manifesto of a real talent”
TÉLÉRAMA

“one of the most prolific songwriters and geniuses of the last twenty years… What is certain is that once again Jurado has succeeded in giving a record a sense of artistic authenticity that consolidates his profile”
ONDAROCK

“In the Shape of a Storm is brilliantly successful … Damien Jurado simply sings his life by adopting the simplest form. And we listen to it. Crying.”
★★★★
SOUL KITCHEN

“Damien Jurado has been a guarantee of quality for more than twenty years… that becomes even clearer with this subdued In The Shape Of A Storm.”
“the beautiful old folk atmospheres, the refined guitar work, the mature songs and the natural, penetrating recital of Jurado make this album more fascinating than many other contemporary singer-songwriter albums.”
★★★★
WRITTEN IN MUSIC

“Jurado plays vividly and concentrated…the “Hands On The Table” in three-four time shows how little great songs need if emotion and authenticity are right.”
8/10
STEREOPLAY

“Damien Jurado remains true to himself and proves once again how gifted he is to find the great gesture and the great emotions in peace and to make them accessible to the listener”
PLATTENTESTS.DE

“Damien Jurado is rightly considered to be one of the best songwriters of our time.”
“Damien Jurado at the height of his creativity. Stories that go straight to the heart and to the ear.”
9/10
PRETTY IN NOISE

“Pure singer-songwriter folk, impressively staged by Jurado. A great artist.”
SOUND & BOOKS

“a masterpiece”
★★★★
HUMO

“a handful of small, introspective, perfect songs”
IL MASCALZONE

“In the Shape of a Storm makes more evident how compelling and affecting his songs are, laid bare…[it is] essential as a showcase of his songcraft at its most elemental.”
8/10
ALL MUSIC

“His songs evoke near-universal imagery and he continues to carve out his path as one of North America’s greatest contemporary folk singers.”
EXCLAIM

“Twenty years in the making, “Lincoln” solidifies how well Damien Jurado can still captivate his audience with no added frills.”
POPMATTERS

“Damien is often at his most gripping when it’s just him and a guitar, and this album grips from start to finish.”
BROOKLYN VEGAN

“In the Shape of a Storm [shows] the prolific songwriter at his most vulnerable.”
PASTE

Damien Jurado is an artist whose voice I never quite realize how much I miss until I hear it again.
KCRW