Damien Jurado: Ghost of David

[18 September 2000]

By David Fufkin

This is the kind of recording that Paul Simon and Neil Young used to release. You know…the kind of songs that glow like a radioactive heart pumping in the chest of the imaginary friend some of us created when we were kids. The friend who accepted us warmly into their safe, peaceful world, telling us their stories. Jurado’s stories don’t always have a happy, peaceful ending, or have any peace or ending at all. Ending or not, I like where he goes throughout.

This home-recorded release is a stripped down showcase of urban-folk songwriting of the finest quality.

Jurado openly admits a Paul Simon Bookends influence and it shows, especially on the opener “Medication” and the second track “Desert”. It’s one thing to be influenced by Bookends. It is quite another to release a recording that captures that kind of power. Believe me, I know. The highlight track is “Tonight I Will Retire”, a song that embodies the Jurado appeal. It is a glimpse into Jurado’s world. Opening with a lonely piano, shaker and open snare drum, the vocal subtly seduces you as he sings about death. It is impactful as it is honest. A great song. All of the songs are simple, personal, impactful and interesting. Strong stuff.

Sub Pop should be applauded for putting out what essentially is a tape recording of a guy, his words and his guitar. That type of confidence in an artist just doesn’t exist anymore. Few artists can just sing with a guitar and do it well. Joe Pernice is one, a former Sub Pop label mate. Jurado is another.

I now have to amend my list of young artists that I think could blow me away in a solo acoustic setting. Let’s see. Elliott Smith, Jeff Tweedy, Joe Pernice, Matthew Sweet and now…Jurado.

Is Jurado the next Dylan? How about Neil Young? Or Paul Simon? How about Woody Guthrie? No…but he is Jurado. And that is what makes this recording special. Jurado just is who he is all over this recording. That is unique, and worthy of a listen by any of you reading this.

If you like any of the artists mentioned here, especially Pernice, check this out.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/juradodamien-ghost/