Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado

Damien is out of his goddamn mind.

This isn't a recent development, but it's an important aspect of his work that often goes ignored. In place of this key element is the idea that his music is a sober and in-depth excavation of the American landscape and rural psyche. Well, folks, I'm sorry, but it's not.

Damien Jurado is every character in every Damien Jurado song. He is the gun, the purple anteater, the paper wings, the avalanche, the air show disaster, Ohio, the ghost of his best friend's wife. It is a universe unto its own, with it's own symbolism, creation myth, and liturgy. You might go as far as to call it a religion, and your religion is a character in his religion.

Level with me. You're reading this because of Damien Jurado's new album, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (produced by Richard Swift). You are a progressive minded, left-leaning person who in parlor-style conversation regarding the globo-political ramifications of Sky Person relationships laughs knowingly so as not to be judgmental and very reasonably concedes "Well, I don't believe He's some old man with a beard sitting up in the clouds" at which point everyone agrees on [insert benign middle-ground] and moves on.

Consider this: What if the only way to understand a religion is to create your own?

Who is this Silver community? Where the hell are they in the Bible? Is this heresy? Agnostic reference? Isn't this sun business a little, I don't know, animistic? Pagan? Go ahead and answer that question for yourself. I'll give you a second.

Do you understand the music any better?

You know that adage we all use so we have something to say while we shrug our shoulders? "People change"? That one. Is that applicable to Jesus Christ? Maybe he's been on a personal journey of discovery since he ascended. He went through the 60's, 70's, he turned on, tuned out, got disillusioned. Why can't we talk about that Jesus? Does it have to be the old-timey one all the time? American folk Jesus, ugh. The one who's always winning Best Soundtrack Oscars for people. Rarely do stories of faith make us identify with Jesus. It's Abraham, Satan, Silver Timothy, Salome, Dr. J, Saul of Tarsus; divinely imperfect brothers and sisters who give Gawd something to do.

Damien Jurado made up his own Jesus because a Damien Jurado album needs a beautiful Jesus. Some freaky space Jesus that I don't recognize. The name is the same, a lot of the imagery is the same, but he's reborn. Born again, I mean. Yeah, as if Jesus got born again. That's what this album sounds like.

Jesus is out of his goddamn mind and I want to live in Damien's America.

Sign me up.

--- Father John Misty; 09-20-2013

Courtney Marie Andrews

At just 16 years old, Courtney Marie Andrews left home in Arizona for her first tour. She traveled up and down the West Coast, busking and playing any bars or cafés that would have her. Soon after, she took a Greyhound bus four nights straight from Phoenix to New York to do the same on the East Coast. For a decade or so since, Courtney's been a session and backup singer and guitarist for nearly 40 artists, including Damien Jurado. She never stopped writing her own material, though. Picking up admirers like Jurado and Ryan Adams along the way, she has quietly earned a reputation as a songwriter's songwriter.

With plans to settle down for a bit and focus on her own songs, Courtney moved to the Northwest in 2011 to record her last full-length record On My Page. However, the record had hardly been released before she was on the road again performing other artists' songs, eventually leading her overseas to play guitar and sing with Belgian star Milow. At the tour's end, though, the other session players joined her to record her 2014 EP Leuven Letters in one take.

It was during this time that Courtney also wrote many of the songs on Honest Life. She found herself realizing the impact of growing up on the road and this constant reconciling between her and other's art and identity. Courtney will take it from there:

While in Belgium for four months, I was going through a major heartbreak. I started growing homesick for America and the comfort of family and friends, and life in the states. That's where I wrote the first songs for Honest Life. It was a giant hurdle in my life. My first true growing pains as a woman. That's why in a sense, I feel this record is a coming of age album. A common thread that runs through the songs, is a great desire to fit somewhere, when nowhere fits. And wanting to get back home to the people I know and love. Once I got back to the States, I started to bartend at a small town tavern. I was home for a while, and needed to post up while rehearsing with the band for the record. At the tavern, I felt I could truly empathize with the stories and lives of the people there. I wrote the other half of the songs about coming home and feeling a sense of belonging again. A lot of the stories at that tavern definitely ran parallel with my own, even though our lives were so different. I was the "musician girl." They were farmers, construction workers, plumbers, waitresses, and cashiers. But, no matter how different, I felt we were all trying to live our most honest life.

Courtney produced the entire record herself at Litho Studios in Seattle with recording engineer Floyd Reitsma.

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