Although Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado has produced plenty of electrified folk/Americana/indie songs over the past couple decades, many of his most resonant and lingering pieces have featured nothing more than his wise yet wounded tenor alongside reserved acoustic guitar fingerpicking. Such is the case with his latest single—and the opening track of his upcoming LP, In the Shape of a Storm—”Lincoln”. Twenty years in the making, the track solidifies how well Jurado can still captivate and affect his audience with no added frills.
According to Jurado, “Lincoln” was written way back in 1998 and initially planned for his third LP, 2000’s Ghost of David; however, “when the day came to mix” the finished sequence, he accidentally erased all 13 tracks in it. Years later (after starting over with all new material for that project), he came across “the only recorded demo [he] made” for that original collection “on a cassette”: “Lincoln”. He adds, “I considered ‘Lincoln’ for many of my [subsequent] albums, but the song just couldn’t find the proper place to land. That was until I went in to record In the Shape of a Storm. It felt not only fitting to put it on [there], but to have it be the opening song.”
For sure, “Lincoln” offers a simple yet substantial glimpse into the storytelling of In the Shape of a Storm (which, although written months before his death, cumulatively captures “the absence” of longtime collaborator and friend Richard Swift, who passed away in July 2018). Built upon a grief-stricken arpeggiated pattern that conjures the breathtaking nakedness of Sia’s “Breathe Me”, Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark”, and the Dear Hunter’s “Things That Hide Away”, it’s an immediately and relentlessly moving foundation. Fortunately, Jurado’s solemn and slightly rustic melody complements it flawlessly, allowing the spaces between sentiments like “There is no one who can take me from this land / More than once, I was captured in your lens” to echo as profoundly as the lyrics themselves. Together, these elements make “Lincoln” a strong example of how the most powerful music is often the simplest and humblest.