Review Summary: Sorrow and joy seem to be Damien Jurado’s medium of choice.
A quick preface, this album was assigned to me as a part of the “Review a Random Album” incentive. I only feel it necessary to state this as it may explain the tone of some of this review. I can say that I’m certainly glad it was as I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The “Plays” count on my iTunes currently sitting at 8 seems to shore up that sentiment. My immediate thought upon starting this album was… Jesus this is really familiar, a thought that would not leave me throughout the album and indeed still has not.
Part of the reason for the familiarity may be that there isn’t a single track on the album that doesn’t remind me of another artist. In Mr. Jurado’s defense this is not always artists that came before him and may in fact be credit to his ability. In my mind I can easily set him side by side with many wonderful musicians both past and present. Damien Jurado instantly conjures up memories of other singular musicians like Nick Drake, Elliott Smith and Pete Yorn. Hell some of his catchier tracks like “Honey Baby”, “Letters & Drawings” and “Ohio” are almost patent rip offs of Pete Yorn Singles circa “musicforthemorningafter”… if he hadn’t done it two years prior that is.
There are other songs that instantly remind me of very specific tracks. The cadence of “Tragedy” makes me think of “Feeding the Tree” by Belly, “Eyes for Windows” is almost assuredly an homage to Nick Drake’s “These Things First” and “Tornado” feels like a revisit of “Barbarosa” by Sordid Humor. He’s not without a little influence of his own though as the title track sounds like it was the blueprint for Jessica Lea Mayfield’s first album “With Blasphemy so Heartfelt”. Then there are the folk music staple slow laments like “Curbside", “Love the Same” and “Saturday” to which I can attribute no one in particular but seem passed down through the history of the genre.
I would not say the Damien Jurado has a great voice by any means but I will state clearly that he does have the rhythm, vision, arrangement skills and writing ability to invalidate the necessity. “Rehearsals for Departure” is an indie/folk album of the highest order and if that’s your bag baby I think you’ll be deciding this is going to be a permanent part of your library by about 1:05 on track one of this album. It is a wonderfully cohesive album that hits the genre running on all eight cylinders and keeps firing properly for its full 36:40 duration. In the end I’m glad it was introduced to me and it is my pleasure to introduce it to you.
P.S. He has a new album out this year that you may want to add to your 2012 collection as well.