damien jurado [2013]

The Chapel
San Francisco, CA
1 March 2013

I wasn’t going to write this. It just seemed too soon, too similar a setting and scenario.

But then Damien Jurado went and did something that compelled me – he played a fan favorite. I know. Of course he did. But he didn’t just perform “Ohio” at the end of his set – he created something new and pure and beautiful out of something that was already perfect and complete. Not as easy as it sounds.

I’m not going to spend time talking about how talented and sincere and wonderful Damien Jurado is. Nor will I prattle on about his masterful ability to pen simple and gorgeous tales of tortured souls. Hopefully, you already know all that.

I thought it was just yesterday when I saw him last, but, as it turned out, it’d been nearly four years since That night at Bottom of the Hill, so the whole too soon argument didn’t carry much weight.

On this Noise Pop night, at the relatively fresh-faced (and appropriately named) Chapel, Jurado mixed the old with the new. The old delighted the hushed and reverential sold-out audience. The new impressed, albeit with less audible enthusiasm. “Working Titles”, one of the new ones, shined brightly. Sure, the back-up singers on the studio recording are so warm and lovely, but sitting by himself, casting that sweet melody out to us, there was no other way possible.

Damien Jurado is a man who impresses nobody on paper. He plays the guitar. He sings. He writes songs about love and loss. And then you stand in a room with him, you watch, you listen, and everything falls away. You are left with that penetrating voice, powerful and vulnerable, and you are changed.