# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Damien Jurado - Ghost Of David

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Damien Jurado - Ghost Of David
Label: Sub Pop
Format: CD


Damien Jurado’s last album was titled ‘Rehearsals For Departure’. Looking through the titles of some of the songs on this, his latest release, you can’t help but wonder if the departure he was plannin

Damien Jurado’s last album was titled ‘Rehearsals For Departure’. Looking through the titles of some of the songs on this, his latest release, you can’t help but wonder if the departure he was planning was a permanent one! The titles alone, ‘Tonight I Will Retire’, ‘Rosewood Casket’ and ‘Ghost In The Snow’ point towards these being stripped-down eerie songs unlike those on his previous Ken Stringfellow (Posies) produced album. Co-produced by Jurado with Jordan Walton, 'Ghost of David' is an unsettling album that takes a few plays to really appreciate. The problem with many introspective, acoustic, singer/songwriter albums is a dearth of decent tunes. 'Ghost Of David' is an exception to this. The opening track, ‘Medication’, starts with a gently plucked acoustic guitar and the lyrics “It just so happens I have many concerns” before the story unfolds about his lover, who is married to a policeman, and his mentally ill brother undergoing ECT. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun but then I somehow doubt that Jurado made this album with a view to it being played at parties. It’s the opening acoustic guitar riff again, which initially captures the attention on ‘Johnny Go Riding’ before the story unfurls about driving buddies, ex-lovers and not being able to leave the house. “Some men they are lovers, others the fighting type, Me, I’m in the middle of choosing which one I like to be” and “Somewhere down the line I knew she’d one day up and leave” are just a couple of the outstanding lines which Jurado uses to tell his story. “I have the potential to be great today” sings Jurado on ‘Great Today’ but he sounds resigned to the fact that he knows he’s never going to be. The title track was written after Jurado had a dream about a friend who dies and Jurado goes looking for his ghost. His frail vocals over just his acoustic guitar conjure up just the right spooky feeling the track needs. A surprise comes with the tracks ‘Parking Lot’, sung by Rosanne Thomas and ‘Rosewood Casket’, a duet between Amy Rockwell and Jurado. The addition of female singers lightens the mood nicely. ‘Rosewood Casket’ is the only track, being traditional, that Jurado did not write and Amy’s gentle vocals match Jurado’s perfectly. The only track, which to these ears, seems out of place on the album is 'Paxil'. It’s named after an antidepressant and, althoughit rocks along with vocals sounding like they are being shouted through a megaphone and does add some colour to the record, it does interrupt the flow of the album. ‘Walk With Me’, with its background of otherworldly voices and piano, sounds like Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’ played through the mind of David Lynch. There are signs of Young in ‘December’, another story-song. as well. Spooky wind sound effects add atmosphere to a disturbing tale about a man found trapped and dead in his car in the ice and snow. The beautiful instrumental ‘Ghost In The Snow’ closes the album and the last sound heard is a telephone ringing which adds to the overall mystery of this extraordinary record. All of this, of course, will probably turn you away from the album. Do we really want to know about Jurado’s “many concerns” and the problems in his life? Well, I’m glad that I made the effort. I have listened to this record solidly for a good month or so now. Some days it is the only music I have heard, and find that it lightens my mood rather than depresses me even though the subject matter on paper might seem that it would. A sign for me, which proves that a record is outstanding is if it makes me dig out the artist’s previous work. I hadn’t listened to ‘Rehearsals For Departure’ for a long time but started listening to it again after being impressed by this album. So it’s done me a favour as I had forgotten how good that was!

Track Listing:-
1 Medication
2 Desert
3 Johnny Go Riding
4 Great Today
5 Tonight I Will Retire
6 Ghost Of David
7 Parking Lot
8 Rearview
9 Paxil
10 Walk With Me
11 December
12 Rosewood Casket
13 Ghost In The Snow

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