Damien Jurado – Visions of Us on the Land
When the first chords of Maraqopa tumbled out of the speakers back in 2012, it wasn’t entirely obvious that Damien Jurado was embarking upon an trilogy of albums. More than that, even though there was always an intensely reflective aspect to his music and lyrics, it wasn’t immediately apparent that the three albums would be linked by a story that reflected upon the themes of inner consciousness and self-revelation. Instead, at the time what was to be celebrated was the ongoing collaboration with Richard Swift that seemed to be wresting a fuller and more confident sound from the artist and one that boded well for the future. With the album cycle now complete, the spiritual quest has reached a certain conclusion. Handily, Secretly Canadian have provided a brief synopsis of the plot for those of us who got lost quite a while back. While the narrative is as deep as the album cover is naive, what is perfectly plain from Visions of Us on the Land is that the musical journey has been fully realised. With Richard Swift at the helm across all three releases, Damien Jurado has emerged as one of the great artists of his generation. Whereas Maraqopa merely dipped its toe into the swirly waters of contemporary psychedelia on tracks like ‘Nothing Is The News’, with Visions we are fully immersed in the fast-moving currents and counter-currents of the genre. Yet, Swift and Jurado never pull us under. The songs are relatively brief, with only one clocking in at anywhere near four minutes. There are also some very welcome eddies. Both ‘Prisms’ and ‘On The Land Blues’ slow things down at a point when we might otherwise be overwhelmed. And the album closes with a trio of acoustic-based songs that wrap up the story with a sense of peace and fulfilment. It’s difficult to do justice to such an immense and highly personal project that comprises the Maraqopa, Brothers and Sisters, and Visions trilogy. Perhaps the best advice is just to listen to the music. Let all the wondrous hooks wash over you and self-revelation will surely follow.