Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett

Written by May 25th, 2010 at 7:00 am

Damien Jurado
Saint Bartlett
(SECRETLY CANADIAN)
Rating: ★★★½☆

Saint Bartlett is singer-songwriter Damien Jurado’s latest album in a career that’s spanned 15 years. More robust than his previous efforts, Saint Bartlett , produced by Richard Swift, swells and soars above the listener in vaguely soundtrack-sounding choruses, almost as if one can imagine any of the tunes behind a climactic scene in One Tree Hill or any other number of teenage drama CW shows.

From the opening track, “Cloudy Shoes”, which is reminiscent of ’90s-era World Party, to “Arkansas,” a ’50s prom song via My Morning Jacket, to “Pear,” a dead ringer for a track by Will Oldham, all of them lead back to a detached, melancholic, but ultimately hopeful record.

Jurado manages to create something that sounds big and produced, yet retains edges of subtlety to it, and is as intimate as his previous albums. Saint Bartlett brings to mind an eddying, rushing river as the listener enjoys from above on the safety of a stout, wooden bridge.

The sound is quintessentially opiate – almost sleep-inducing – and upon writing that, it should be clarified as a compliment, kind of like falling asleep to NPR: It gives good information, but the undertones and lush notes can lull you to dreams.

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