The official music video for “Silver Timothy,” from Damien Jurado’s new album Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son.
I’d pre-ordered this album, and was pretty excited when it arrived last week. Damien Jurado has been my favorite artist for more than a decade, so naturally I look forward to all his releases. But this one was going to be special. This mark’s Damien’s third collaboration with producer Richard Swift, after 2010’s Saint Bartlett and 2012’s Maraqopa. Maraqopa was a quasi-concept album. Not all of the songs played directly into the concept, but a theme was apparent throughout. And that theme was based on a dream Jurado had one night. After reading several interviews online I’m still ignorant of the details of that dream, except that it was about a man who left everything behind to go on a journey of self-discovery. By the end of the album, the protagonist is dead. And then Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son picks up right where the previous album left off with the protagonist waking up from a car crash not knowing whether he’s alive or dead. This time, there is no quasi about it. This is a full-fledged concept album, and I’m loving it. The majority of Damien’s work has been folk songs, slice-of-life stories of unlucky people in bad or hopeless situations. Since Maraqopa, his work has seen a drastic departure, which is sometimes the death of a career. But not here. Not even close. Jurado and Swift know what they are doing. Damien is not out of his mind as Father John Misty recently wrote, he’s just plumbing the depths of his mind and abilities more than most give themselves license to dare. And we are all reaping the benefits.
It’s hard to say how this album will rank among Damien’s others given the perspective of time. If he continues on his current path, and he says he has no reason to stop, it won’t be comparable to his previous work. But that’s as it should be. Why bother comparing albums when each should be taken on it’s own merits? What this album does is showcase just how vibrant and diverse an artist he is. After more than a decade of solid Americana/folk records, many of which show signs of experimentation with music and sound, Jurado throws a series of curve balls that stun the crowd and critics. This is a man who just last summer collaborated with Moby. He went from writing songs about jealous lovers, medicated brothers, and small town life to writing songs about spaceships, silver people, and make-believe small towns. So I’m not going to judge or critique the new album. I’m going to enjoy it, because he’s obviously enjoying himself.