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Damien Jurado | Ghost Of David (Sub Pop)
A recent trip to Seattle found me in a bar, but not some dark, smoky back room this was a shiny, air-conditioned arrangement on the top floor of a downtown shopping centre. Eyes trained on TV's showing the ball game I'd forsaken. Few took notice of the burly, shaven headed singer in the corner or the words flowing from him, which was their loss, he was the reason I was here. If they'd been bothered they'd have found at least one song was about them. His soft voice, at odds with his appearance, telling tales of longing and loss, stories a young Paul Simon would have killed for and are now only surpassed by Joe Henry. No-one could have witnessed everything he tells, for this is a man who has 'seen the brighter side of the roads that lead to hell' and has 'found salvation in the places where you drink' so maybe sitting unnoticed in a bar means he's absorbed others tales and re-tells them as if to warn of such tragedy. This album, like that night, is minimal, mainly only a guitar for backing, sometimes a piano with an occasional drum machine or experimental noises, but it's the words that matter and a measure of their strength is when Rose Thomas takes the lead in Parking Lot and even the lounge drum beat can't stop the tears. The noodlings and do-it-yourself production just add to the intrigue as the tempo changes as the album progressively draws you in until there's just a telephone ringing in an empty house, it could be for you, but after what you've heard, dare you answer it?

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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