Damien Jurado Saint Bartlett

Damien Jurado Saint Bartlett
The absence of long-time partners in song Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher might initially raise worry that the pinnacle of refinement achieved on 2008 release Caught in the Trees was a closed book. Luckily, on his ninth full-length, Damien Jurado has a new partner in Richard Swift, who both produces and provides all non-Jurado instrumentation, helping him open a new chapter. The familiar stalwart, openhearted narrative that has run through Jurado's songs is still front and centre. "Arkansas," the album teaser, hinted at a lighter, broader, '60s-influenced sound. But it isn't long before we're back in the stark, familiar glow of "Rachel & Cali." Subtle touches, like the field recordings that haunt the backgrounds of "Pear" and "Kansas City," or the subdued choir and bells of "Beacon Hill," pull the songs away from isolation into a real world. Saint Bartlett succeeds both in its variety and in the warmth and vulnerability that we've come to rely on Jurado to share with us. (Secretly Canadian)