DAMIEN JURADO

Damien Jurado by Cary Norton

Throughout his 25-year career, Damien Jurado has been chasing the ghosts of the words in his songs. He rummaged restlessly between fiction and reality. He disappeared into disembodied dreamscapes and received resplendent visions. He returned to earthbound plains estranged by a world gone more cold and callous. He sifted through fogs of the past for unblemished truths. And throughout these myriad avenues and trials, Jurado came out none the wiser. It’s the damnedest thing when you think about it: a man who can paint such intricate scenes with each line leaving his lips, still sounding completely lost. The architect of his own unsolvable puzzle.

 

Truth be told, there is very little humans do know. The strands of wisdom tend to grow from the smallest of certainties we find solace in, the seeds yet to be sown. This is more or less the gist of Jurado’s 15th, self-produced studio album What’s New, Tomboy?, out May 1st on Loose. Jurado turns a blank page, not preoccupied with prophecies of futures or pasts. “We are fiction as it’s written // The bleeding ink on paper,” he denotes on “Fool Maria” with a whispered assurance. For the first time, Damien Jurado sings to you: not as the bewildered extra astray on the wrong film set, but as the guide holding your hand, walking you through the scenery with experience and compassion.

 

What’s New, Tomboy? is an album that seeks respite in bare minimums and barren revelations: sometimes frail, sometimes affirming, sometimes wry, and usually a threadbare mix of all those sentiments. “When You Were Few”, for example, was written as Jurado was clearing out the bulk of his possessions. “I got rid of almost everything I owned,” he reveals. “It was almost like I had died, honestly. You know that feeling when someone dies and you have to clear out their apartment or their house? That’s what I did. It was as if I had died, even though I was still living. I donated five of my guitars to a thrift shop.”

Jurado’s decision to chisel away all of the materialistic things extends not only to the clarity of the words, but to the album’s production values, as well. Devoid of reverb and extensive tracking, this collection of songs is of the cut-and-dry, plainspoken variety, drawing influence from records such as Lou Reed’s The Bells, Wire’s Chairs Missing and Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure. Jurado: “I left out certain instruments on purpose, so you’re making space for the listener to fill in their own melodies and parts.” The bass guitar, nimbly played by Jurado’s collaborator Josh Gordon, is pushed into the foreground, acting as both a mediator between harmonics and an autonomous entity sprawling across the canvas. “I love Josh’s playing so much, and a lot of the hooks on the album come from him. It’s very Paul McCartney-esque… very dry, with the bass mixed in very loud.”

 

Indeed, the subtleties and simplistic things get their moment in the sun on What’s New, Tomboy?. Often times, a simple nod of recognition or a funny quip brings more comfort than some restless self-interrogation. More importantly, Jurado has stopped questioning the elusive nature of his craft. “I don’t think I’ll ever know what my songs are telling me,” Jurado admits. “I usually have other people tell me what my songs are saying. It’s really funny, it’s like having someone move to your apartment building who doesn’t speak the same language as you. But for some reason, you’re able to help them communicate a little better. You don’t speak the same language, and once someone comes along who does speak the same language, you start asking them what it really means, instead of how you interpret it. That’s kind of how it is for me. I’m always trying to guess what my songs are telling me, like a translator, but then someone comes along who knows the language, and they translate it back to me.”

 

Furthermore, What’s New, Tomboy? could be considered Damien Jurado’s finest collection of music to date, with songs exuding the inviting warmth of a lone porch light gleaming amidst the disorienting darkness. Though more stripped and grounded in their execution, songs like “Sandra”, “Ochoa” and “Alice Hyatt” are generous and candid in their vocabulary, eschewing the sometimes abstruse imagery of Jurado’s previous releases. “There is no hiding on these tracks.” Though What’s New, Tomboy? is the first Damien Jurado record that ends with a question mark, he has never sounded more assured and content in giving up his ghosts: “I’m only living sentences // That were long before I got here.”

Alice Hyatt (2020)

Birds Tricked Into The Trees (2020)

In the Shape of a Storm (2019)

Photo credit: Cary Norton

Click individual images to download hi-res version

In The Shape Of A Storm

Damien Jurado - What's New, Tomboy?

Artist: Damien Jurado

Title: What’s New, Tomboy?

Release date: 01 May 2020

Catalogue no.: VJCD255

Formats: CD/ LP / Digital

 

Download hi-res artwork

1. Birds Tricked Into The Trees
2. Ochoa
3. Alice Hyatt
4. Arthur Aware
5. Francine

6. Fool Maria
7. When You Were Few
8. Sandra
9. The End Of The Road
10. Frankie

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

 

Download hi-res artwork

  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

What's New, Tomboy? (2020)

ethereal, literary often dreamy lo-fi folk-Americana… The songs are up there with his best
★★★★
MOJO

Live Reviews (2020)

“Jurado appears the quintessence of the notion that, in lieu of any kind of elaborate, or even moderately advanced chord structure, there’s much to be said for conjuring adroit vocal melodies and a warmly engaging singing voice…Damien Jurado may never sound better.”
THE FIX MAGAZINE

“Seattle folkie Damien Jurado proves that less is more in a storytelling masterclass in Glasgow”
★★★★
THE SKINNY

“The music is sparse but there is huge emotional heft here and it’s deeply affecting. It’s clear we are in the presence of a special talent.”
★★★★
FOLK AND TUMBLE

“the entire show was beautifully presented with every number delicately performed”
AMERICANA UK

“The material undoubtedly packs a seriously heavy emotional heft but that doesn’t make tonight’s show a downer in the least: somehow the sadness, accompanied by Jurado’s jovial hosting, proves life-affirming – and completely compelling.”
YORKSHIRE EVENING POST

“an incredibly heartwarming performance and a powerful demonstration of what can be fully achieved by a guitar and a voice.”
GOD IS IN THE TV

“Excellent”
★★★★
CONTACT MUSIC

“Veteran troubadour Damien Jurado mesmerises London with a masterful set”
GIG LIST

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

“intimate affirmation of Jurado’s current brilliance”
★★★★
MOJO

“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

★★★★
THE LINE OF BEST FIT

“recalls the earliest Bob Dylan records, with echoes too of Leonard Cohen and Elliott Smith, and it is fit to stand alongside the best work of all three”
“Such stark arrangements lend the music a timeless quality; every track is a melancholy gem that sounds like it has been ripped directly from the pages of the American folk songbook.”
9/10
BELFAST TELEGRAPH

“Such stark arrangements lend the music a timeless quality, every track is a melancholy gem.”
4/5
YORKSHIRE POST

“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

“songs such as the aching South rank up there with his best”
Q

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

“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

“Jurado’s two hours of recording result in something of a triumph”
★★★★
ROCK N REEL

“ Not only is ‘In the Shape of a Storm’ Jurado’s most intimate, stripped back set of songs in many a year, but it’s also one of his most powerful… It might well be Jurado at his most raw, but it’s all the more affecting for that.”
PENNYBLACK MUSIC

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

“Quietly captivating, his fourteenth album is a masterclass in song and simplicity.”
TOP 100 RECORDS OF THE YEAR #98
DELUXE

“Gorgeously sparse… Back to basics, back to best.”
★★★★
THE WEE REVIEW

“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

“proof that we’re in the presence of a master storyteller”
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
9/10
PETERBOROUGH TELEGRAPH

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

“Jurado is a teacher like few others in the most suffering and stoic folk, a kind of folk of his own, who just when he is about to kill you with melancholy, lights up your soul, and brings it back with a faint blue light.”
★★★★★
ECOS DEL VINILIO

“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

“Damien Jurado consciously decides to go against the current trend – such as fish that swim against the stream to give birth – seeking the starting point of a songwriter. With a voice and a guitar he says in a tender, bittersweet, true way what he has to say. And because it is obvious he has an inner world, a real artist, his songs have a substance, concern us and make us good friends.”
ATHENS VOICE

“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

“Le chanteur a réussi son rendez-vous avec le tout-acoustique. Il est d’une limpide simplicité et d’une délicatesse incroyable.”
LES INROCKUPTIBLES

“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

“A master stroke… proof of the monstrous talent of Damien Jurado”
ADDICT CULTURE

“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

“A gifted storyteller… one of his strongest works ever.”
9/10
NEON GHOSTS

“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

“he is without doubt one of the best American songwriters in circulation. This album is reduced to the bone, vocals and guitar for most of the songs, wonderfully mysterious and simple songs, take heart and take it away, as only great songs can do. Unmissable.”
ALBUMS OF THE WEEK
REPUBBLICA

“a masterpiece”
★★★★
HUMO

“No less than a masterpiece”
HEAVEN MAGAZINE

“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