On Saint Bartlett, veteran indie songwriter Damien Jurado sounds like a man reborn; from the first instance of ‘Cloudy Shoes’ his music seems to have been entirely revitalised for this latest Secretly Canadian long-player. In addition to the more hopeful tone that presides over many of these songs, some credit for this reinvention has to go to the album’s fine arrangements and its production, which comes courtesy of labelmate Richard Swift.
The mellotron and huge, Spector-esque drums bring the best out of Jurado’s writing, stripping the core sound down to a few simple and essential ingredients. The likes of ‘Arkansas’ and ‘Throwing Your Voice’ do just as well, the former dishing out plinky-plonk ’60s piano over a Ronettes-ish drum beat while the latter sounds like a downbeat take on Tom Petty’s ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ thanks to a towering downtempo drum riff.
Highlights further down the tracklist include ‘Wallingford’ (which actually brings to mind Beck’s most recent endeavours) and ‘Kansas City’, whose melancholy acoustic persona is perhaps more obviously representative of Jurado’s writing style, conjuring a gloomy but wonderfully tuneful piece of modern folk that’s as good a anything in the recent catalogues of his better known contemporaries, Will Oldham and Jason Molina.
Review by Boomkat.
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