Damien Jurado – Maraqopa


Artist: Damien Jurado
Album: Maraqopa
Label: Secretly Canadian
Rating: 7.5

I had a conversation recently about Bon Iver’s new album and how his first was “how things were really shitty but they’re getting better”, while his second was essentially “now things are better”. It’s a common malady for an artist who creates something alone in their room for years, gets acclaim for it, and then suddenly their life becomes more social and happier. While Damien Jurado is his own performer, he does draw resemblances to the modern day stylings of Iver or even Fleet Foxes. Which begs the question: Can a singer/songwriter make a career out of creating songs that aren’t rooted in the sadness/melancholia of life?

It’s not really fair to compare Jurado to those other acts mainly because he’s been around for almost 15 years and has a lot more life experience to draw from for his songs.Maraqopa is very mature album that answers the aforementioned question with “life is always filled with sadness and melancholia but that’s okay, I’m comfortable with it.” His songs actually remind me more of the early work of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake, in the way that he finds poetry in the world and is able to express it musically in a way isn’t heavy handed. I’ve expressed before my apprehension with singer/songwriters because I just feel that there’s so just so much room for error that one slip and I’ll be tuned out.Jurado is able to vary his songs throughout the album that drives one song to the next, and while if one song isn’t his best, he knows to keep them short not wallowing in what could be pretentious softness. Jurado knows that there needs to be peaks and valleys even for soft melodic folk music. Each song brings a new idea, and with that sometimes it’s a new instrument whether it is the soft organs on “Everyone a Star”, or kids singing
on “Life Away From the Garden”.

I feel like an old grump sometimes when it comes to folk music, because I’ll never seek it out and I’ll rarely keep it on, but every once and while there will be something that’ll resonate and stay with me. Maraqopa is an album that feels like it could be one of those that will stay with my collection of Cohen, Drake, and Fleet Foxes albums, and it’s because it has created a unique place that I’d like to revisit.

-Michael Unger

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