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The Essence of Melancholy

Words: Shawn Telford

Image: Zack Arias

Image of recording artist, Damien Jurado

This troubadour knows the essence of melancholy. It’s in each of the 12 songs on his latest release, “On My Way To Absence.” Be it up-tempo or down, Jurado’s words and soft-sung heart evoke bittersweet reflections on love and loneliness, the trials and tribulations of what could be anyone’s and most often feels like the sadder part of me. Whoever it is, they’re recovering and time heals all wounds, making us stronger. A full band joins him and ample time was taken in the studio to get the songs just right. The production value and diversity of this record make it the finest release to come from Shoreline’s first and only folk hero.

Describe the genesis of your songs, and how this has changed over the years.
Usually someone is leaving a town or city, they fall in love or they are coaxing someone out of a relationship for themselves. They all eventually are murdered or kill themselves. It hasn’t changed that much really. The towns and people do. That’s it.

Do you go into the studio with a complete song?
The songs are for the most part always complete, the rest comes later. Eric Fisher, who’s been playing with me since “Ghost Of David” has become a huge part of what I do. As it is now, I just write the songs and he gives them life... or shapes them, if you will.
Then, do you still consider yourself a solo artist?

Do you have an overriding theme or message driving your work, a demon perhaps?
It would have to be about the forgotten America. The vacant movie theater and huge empty parking lots of bingo halls. The 15-year-old girl who sits bored daydreaming behind the Dairy Queen counter in Orange, Texas. Back seats, spare change and the last cigarette. Those sorts of things.

Has music always been in your life?
I stole my first bass guitar when I was 13 years old, from my middle school. I took it home and taught myself how to play the entire “Damaged” album by Black Flag. From there on I wanted to be in a band. It was later that I did... when I met David Bazan. We were in three bands total. We later went on to do other things and the rest is history.

What do you do to support local music?
I prefer [all ages shows] to the 21+ shows, mostly because the younger crowds are very much into the music. It isn’t a time to stand around with a beer in your hand and look stupid while you talk so loud to your fake friends that I can’t hear the music. Anyways, I lost where I was going... Right, I do go to shows. I like hardcore or hip hop shows the best.

What’s the greatest musical experience you’ve ever had?
Hearing Little Richard for the first time.

Is there anything in life you haven’t yet accomplished and want to?
Yes, I want to conquer my fear of flying in airplanes and I want to play the Moore Theater.

Damien Jurado performs Sunday, September 4 during Bumbershoot at EMP’s Sky Church at 4:45pm.


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