When folks talk about Damien Jurado, there seems to be some confusion. Damien’s a tortured soul, Damien’s a folk singer, Damien’s a pop song master, Damien’s sad and down, Damien’s silly, Damien’s crazy, Damien’s just your average guy. Some confusion, and that’s okay. All of the disparate statements aside, everyone agrees on one thing: Damien writes damn good songs.
Throughout his career, Jurado has released a mess of singles, EPs and three previous full-length albums, and with I Break Chairs, a new batch of songs comes to light. In what’s quickly becoming the only true Jurado style, the record heads off in new directions, with a full band called Gathered in Song filling out and styling his folky lyrical approach and straightforward guitar playing into perfect pop gems.
I Break Chairs is the record fans have been begging for, a pleasing culmination of all things Jurado. The honest and familiar soul of Damien’s past efforts remains the focal point, and with David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) engineering, these twelve new songs are full and alive, with jangling guitars and rolling drums carrying Damien’s priceless sense of narrative and powerful vocal delivery.
With I Break Chairs, Damien is here to surprise you. From the first measure of the album’s opener, “Broken Wings,” fans will hear a Jurado rested and charged after his last album, the understated and dark Ghost of David (Sept. ‘00, Sub Pop). Many of the songs pick up where Damien’s first full-length, Waters Ave S.(Jan. ’97, Sub Pop), and radio favorites like “Honey Baby” and “Letters and Drawings” from Rehearsals for Departure (Mar. ’99, Sub Pop) left off: catchy-as-hell tunes with unforgettable hooks that will hang themselves up in your head for a long and comforting stay.
Thematically, Damien visits ground fans will be familiar with: friends disappointed, abandoned whores and mermaids, boys ditching their girls, and with “Like Titanic,” he weaves a modern-day love story Hollywood could never get quite right, in which two broke youngsters escape boredom by trespassing, wrecking cars, setting fires, popping pills and telling lies. Tracks like “The Way You Look” and “Big Deal” will have you off your ass, wanting to dance and sing along, but don’t be fooled: the harrowing backdrop of “Airshow Disaster” and “Lose My Head” will remind you that Damien breaks more than chairs, so watch out for your heart.