Damien Jurado – Caught In the Trees

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Damien JuradoCaught In The Trees (Sept. 9, Secretly Canadian)
By Matthew Ralph

Consistency. That’s the first word that comes to mind when considering Damien Jurado’s output as a formal recording artist in the last decade. From the beginning notes of his first full-length in 1997 to the final heartbreaking stanza of his most recent effort, Jurado is a stalwart songwriting presence in an endless sea of the latest things/rehashes of the latest things two decades ago.

Now eight full-lengths and dozens of other shorter releases in with the release earlier this month of Caught In Trees, Jurado has become, for me at least, one of those artists whose record releases I mark on the calendar. Like an old friend you happen to run into around the same time every year, Jurado’s voice is friendly and familiar even when the subject matter of which he sings is not.

Caught In Trees more or less continues where his last release (And Now That I’m In Your Shadow) left off, mostly tapping into a similar formula of subtle slow-moving storytelling with an acoustic guitar and backing orchestration that occasionally crescendos with some noisier outbursts. “Gilliam Was A Horse” is more of the latter in that equation with its punchy chorus and “bullshit talker” refrain, but generally speaking the record takes repeated listens for the artistry and brilliance of the music and more specifically lines like “easy to land, but it’s harder to fall” and “no one is perfect we must admit it now” to set in.

The record cuts off just as you are getting really cozy with it, but not before “Everything Trying” tears your heart out. “I will come back and admit that it wasn’t your fault/I’m tired and unwilling to be the only one who was wrong,” Jurado sings, bringing to mind standout tracks from his past like “Wedding Cake” on Waters Avenue S.,”What Were the Chances” on And Now That I’m In Your Shadow and “Love The Same” on Rehearsals For Departure. If there’s a song that best illustrates Jurado’s ability to engage the listener with his storytelling, it’s this one. But as those who have grown to appreciate the consistency of his contributions over the years are sure to recognize, it’s only one of several standout tracks on a record that further solidifies his standing as a trustworthy source of poignantly captivating songs.

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