Seattle songwriter Damien Jurado has recorded his first original Christmas song and, all in proper festive spirit, made it available for free download. ‘Kalla Hus’ was created alongside fellow Seattle-based musician Kyle Zantos, with strings performed by Sam Anderson.
Download ‘Kalla Hus’ here:
Plus there’s a thoughtful accompanying video as directed by Christopher Harrell and starring Randall A. Walker, watch it here:
Jurado’s latest album ‘Maraqopa’ was recently given the accolade of being listed at number six on Rough Trade’s Top 10 Albums of 2012! They call the record a “real high water mark, a remarkable monument to the power of good, honest craft and artistic pursuit; an all too rare occurrence in this age of pop idols, reality stars and hype machine hipsters.”
Watch the video for the utterly beautiful album track ‘Museum Of Flight’, documenting Damien’s five-week tour of Europe earlier this year. Fixated in a whirlwind of gorgeous landscapes and magnificent buildings. Director Tyler Kalberg managed to capture the sincerest of moments:
Watch a fantastic documentary about the making of ‘Maraqopa’ along with live performances from the record here.
Welcome to ‘Maraqopa’, population 2. Damien Jurado’s newest collaboration with producer Richard Swift drops us into a brutal and benevolent landscape. The bold strokes and new turns the pair made with 2010’s ‘Saint Bartlett’ are taken even further. He throws open the gate on his oft insular dirges and allows them do some real wilding out in the canyon. In ‘Maraqopa’, the vistas are miles-wide; the action is more dynamic; the close-ups extreme and sweaty and snarling. The strummed desert blues that begins ‘Nothing Is The News’ quickly bursts open into an Eddie Hazel-worthy supernova-cum-blackhole shred session, all of it swirling in tinny-psych and Echoplex’d howls. We’ve never heard anything like this from Jurado.
Fifteen years into his remarkable career, and he continues to blossom. Jurado and Swift establish themselves not only as inventive, trusting collaborators, but as one another’s spirit animals in American outsider songcraft —lone wolves in black sheep’s clothing. Swift is the Ennio Morricone to Jurado’s Sergio Leone.
At Swift’s National Freedom studios, the live-to-tape ethos allowed these songs to expand and retract like a great beast’s breath. Every in-the-moment bell and whistle here is hung with a natural, casual care. And from this, each song offers up its own unique gift: the creepy and enchanting children’s choir that echoes each line of Jurado’s lament for innocence lost on ‘Life Away From The Garden’; the breezy bossa nova that begins ‘This Time Next Year’ and rises as effortless as a smoke cloud into high-noon showdown pop; ‘Reel to Reel”s wobbly, Spector-symphony and its meta themes; the wonderful falsetto vocal work Jurado pulls from himself on ‘Museum Of Flight’. The Seattle Times called Jurado “Seattle’s folk-boom godfather,” an honoring recognition to be sure. But also a title Jurado might not yet be ready to accept. That’s a title for someone who has settled. With each visit to National Freedom, Jurado is exploring, taking risks. He’s not only freeing his songs. The gate is opened wide to allow us all into his once-isolated musical universe. One gets the sense he’s just now hitting his stride.
Critical applause for ‘Maraqopa’:
“Whether Swift or Jurado said ‘Let’s put a children’s choir on this one’ when they were listening to the mixes of ‘Life Away From The Garden’, the result is an echoing chorus that flows through the song, lifting it to another level and making it stand in stark contrast to album opening ‘Nothing Is The News’, which heads off into unashamedly early 1970s guitar rock, to the plaintive folk of ‘Museum Of Flight’. An eclectic delight”. Sunday Times
“But Maraqopa signifies a shift from an album-length exercise in osmosis to a set of songs made to excite, and Jurado seems to know this….the man once dubbed “the Raymond Carver of folk” for his spare tales of other people’s anguish is stepping into the spotlight-baiting critics, even!-while fingers snap and women swoon”. A.V. Club
“blessed with a uniform atmosphere, equal parts rustic and ethereal, that beautifully compliments Jurado’s emotionally direct approach. ” Drowned in Sound
“Damien Jurado’s latest is a fantastic maze”. Tiny Mix Tapes
“Here’s one you won’t want to miss” MOJO
“Even after 12 full-length albums, Jurado is still finding ways to grow musically. While continuing to deliver the intimate songs of hopeless love and regret for his longtime fans, he stills finds ways to surprise as he works with his magician-like collaborator. Maraqopa lingers long after the last track informs us that, ‘We are all mountains still asleep”. American Songwriter
“A gentle evolution it may be, but it’s one that is slowly turning Jurado into one of our most treasured songwriters.” BBC Music