Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett

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Artist: Damien Jurado

Title: Saint Bartlett
Release date: May 25
Label: Secretly Canadian

So much of the music I've listened to this month has been unabashed summertime music -- whether it's Sleigh Bells, The Hold Steady, The Dead Weather, even Band of Horses' sittin'-round-the-campfire rock -- so it was unusual to hear a rather downbeat collection of indie folk and slow lo-fi rock.

The curveball comes courtesy of Damien Jurado, the longtime singer-songwriter from Seattle. His new record is full of melancholy, introspective, lock-yourself-in-your-room music. Jurado's doleful voice is that of a beaten-down man, sort of a sad cross between Coldplay's Chris Martin and Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek.
On the plaintive and delicate "Beacon Hill," Jurado sings, "I've read your reviews / Studied your lines / I know them so well / That my life's a tragedy." He's even more a sad sack in "Rachel & Cali": "Rachel, would it be all right / If I stayed here in the car / There's too many people out there / That I don't know." 

It would all be so terribly pathetic if Jurado weren't such a solid songwriter, both musically and lyrically. And his singing doesn't ask you to sympathize, it just asks you listen to his story.

May 24th: Damien Jurado 'Cloudy Shoes' by PIAS UK Sales

Best song: For rock, the Crazy Horse-esque "Wallingford"; for balladry, it's "Beacon Hill"
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja Vu: Neil Young meets Red House Painters
I'd rather listen to: Sun Kil Moon's wonderful Ghosts of the Great Highway
Grade: B

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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