Performing at the uniquely intimate surroundings of St Pancras Old Church it takes Damien Jurado a good 5 or 6 songs before he speaks a word directly to the small, but perfectly formed audience gathered here tonight.
When he does, he talks at length with gushing enthusiasm for ‘Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son’, his new record released next month on the Secretly Canadian label. It’s a continuation of a concept originated on 2012’s fantastic Maraqopa, about a man who disappears on a search for himself, never to go back home again. With Maraqopa producer Richard Swift back behind the desk, this time he’s setting the weirdness studio nobs up to eleven.
Jurado’s songs are brimmed full of simple melodies, rhythms and phrasing, and what strikes me tonight in a solo capacity is the way he uses volume and dynamics both vocally and musically to enhance them to such great effect.
Stripped back to the core even tracks like new song ‘Silver Timothy’ have a wonderful pronounced resonance. Like a close quarter magician there’s no smoke and mirrors, or the comfort of a backing band to hide behind. Under the glaring candlelit scrutiny the songs I know shine, and the ones from his large back catalogue I don’t know will be discovered again another day.
There are shades of Dylan, Nick Drake and Neil Young and even some Coldplay too. At ten o’clock sharp the church bells ring loudly mid-song, ironically just as Damien is singing “Do not disturb’. For a second the two are in sync, but like us go their separate ways soon after.
He finishes with a Christmas song around the piano at the back of the church, despite confessing that he can’t play the instrument. He’s only half telling the truth though, he can (a bit) and the goodwill carries him along to the end.
Hopefully when the record is out he’ll be back to play again.
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