Damien Jurado wasn’t kidding when he told fans that his new release was going to be unlike anything they’d heard from him before. Fifteen years and 10 albums into his career, the Seattle singer-songwriter seems to have found his ideal collaborator in producer Richard Swift, who worked with Jurado on 2010’s excellent Saint Bartlett. Where once there was stripped down folk, country and pop rock, Swift has helped Jurado flesh out his sound with breezy bossa nova (“This Time Next Year”), a spooky children’s choir (“Life Away From the Garden”) and some ‘70s organ work (“So On, Nevada”).
Jurado’s smooth-like-butter voice, acoustic guitar and world-weary dissatisfaction remain at the album’s center, supplemented by everything from seriously funky shredding on “Nothing Is the News” to seasick Spector psych on “Reel to Reel.” If this all sounds a little schizophrenic, never fear; Maraqopa’s experimentations aren’t those of a young musician set loose in a studio full of new toys. Rather, with this newest release, Jurado demonstrates that, at this late date in his career, he may just be hitting his stride.