Since partnering with Richard Swift on 2010’s Saint Bartlett, Damien Jurado’s music has diverged from that of the somber singer/songwriter he has come to be known as—leaving behind airy, sparse recordings for a world of thick reverb and echoing choirs. On Brothers and Sisters of The Eternal Son, Jurado and Swift step further away from those roots to create an otherworldly experience.
For anyone who follows Damien Jurado, it shouldn’t come as such of a surprise that his sound has shifted in this direction. It’s been seen in some of his more recent live shows (certainly since touring for his previous album, Maraqopa) with a full band. His solo shows tended to feature him alone, in a chair, singing his stories; captivating audiences with no more than an acoustic guitar and his voice. However, the tour for Maraqopa had a man lost in his performance as a band played behind him. He seemed reborn.
Brothers and Sisters features lush arrangements that Maraqopa only touched on (by comparison, although it was “out there” for Jurado at the time of its release). It takes 10 seconds of the first track, “Magic Number,” to realize that something is different here—this album has an unavoidable groove. “Silver Timothy” and “Silver Donna” are two tracks where the rhythm section shines best. And if you thought you never wanted to hear congas again after Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, then “Silver Donna” may just change your mind.
According to the album’s trailer, Brothers and Sisters is about “a guy who disappears on a search for himself and never goes home,” and is a sequel to Maraqopa’s story based on a dream about “a guy who disappears into the desert.” Jurado has always been an exceptional storyteller with a gift for painting vivid pictures with various meanings. The lyrics here are heavy with religious, dream-like symbolism as he details the journey of his character while allowing everyone to have their own interpretation of what the man finds and encounters in the wilderness.
If there’s one word to describe Brothers and Sisters, it’s “energetic;” in fact, “Silver Joy” is the closest Jurado comes to his classic style as he sings softly over a finger-picked guitar. Every track may not be as upbeat as “Silver Timothy,” but they all feature that energy Jurado has been experimenting with at their core. Whether it’s the more familiar-sounding songs like “Metallic Cloud” and “Silver Katherine,” or “Jericho Road”’s spaghetti Western march or even “Return to Maraqopa”’s swirl of synthesizers, Jurado is stretching to make something truly unique.