Caught in the Trees

Caught in the Trees

Damien Jurado is that rare singer-songwriter who doesn’t start with his own feelings. The Seattle-based songwriter is a storyteller and the tales are usually pretty grim. Over more than a half dozen engaging albums, he’s been quietly amassing a catalog second to none. With his now established backing band of bassist and cellist and harmony singer Jenna Conrad and drummer Eric Fisher, Jurado has a consistent framework at his disposal. This doesn’t stop him from stripping things down to the essentials when need be (the cheap keyboard and hushed acoustic guitar of “Trials,” the mild symphonic sweep of cello and guitar of “Last Rights”); but it does enable him to kick into carefully modulated gear with the peppy cruise of the album opener, “Gillian Was A Horse,” where Conrad traces Jurado’s upbeat melody with unison and harmony vocals that add a sea breeze ease to the stilted anger hiding beneath the surface. Jenna Conrad’s “Best Dress” slowly cranks up the amps, while the electric guitars shadowing “Coats of Ice” adds an extra sense of menace to a tune that admits the “bottle of pills never seemed to work.” The dark sentiments are often wrapped in a deceptive sweetness.

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