Published Apr 10, 2019Written in 1998, the opening track to Damien Jurado's latest album, "Lincoln," ends with a refrain emblematic of the entire project: "There is nothing to hide." Comprised of mainly guitar and singing, In the Shape of a Storm is Jurado's sparsest release in years. Yet the veteran singer-songwriter's cinematographic songs do not lose their sense of emotional weight.
The songs throughout sound as if they have fermented over time. Like brief cinematic vignettes, Jurado's lyrics speak to a diverse set of narratives compiled from his years as a songwriter. Diverging from the futurism of his more progressive releases, such as 2014's Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun, these songs feel grounded in youthful stories, without a hint of contrived nostalgia.
"Throw Me Now Your Arms" is a beautiful romantic ballad centred around naturalistic imagery of oceans and forests. At the same time, Jurado plays with abstraction to highlight feelings of true love: "Let me be the one to tell you, I would give up my life." As always, Jurado skilfully balances his grounded imagery with appeals to universality. Concurrently, songs such as "Newspaper Gown" and the closing track "Hands on the Table" speak directly to the construction of the songwriter's detailed narratives.
As with so much of Jurado's work, In the Shape of a Storm is simple in its construction, but panoramic in its impact. His songs evoke near-universal imagery and he continues to carve out his path as one of North America's greatest contemporary folk singers. (Mama Bird Recording Co.)