Album Review: Damien Jurado - The Horizon Just Laughed

3 May 2018 | 11:07 am | Chris Familton

"There's a plaintive mood across most of these songs, a gentle grandeur and a tender sway."

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The Horizon Just Laughed comes on the back of the loosely thematic trilogy of albums Damien Jurado recorded with producer and musician Richard Swift.

They were psychedelic in nature though still rooted in the folk form. In contrast, this feels like a retreat from the density and experimentation to a place of reflection and solitude.

Jurado is often lumped in with songwriters like Phosphorescent, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and on Over Rainbows And Rainier he certainly shares a rustic minimalism with the last. There's a plaintive mood across most of these songs, a gentle grandeur and a tender sway. The lyrics are introspective, dealing in character observations (six of the 11 song titles feature names) and vignettes that reference fires and ghosts, dreams and Charles Schulz - skilfully shifting from literal to impressionistic storytelling and back.

Allocate is the album's scene setter, a dreamy, string-enhanced soulful meander that recalls Jurado's starker early work. It's followed by Dear Thomas Wolfe, which highlights his seemingly endless ability to effortlessly weave beautiful, understated melodies. Marvin Kaplan introduces a sweet Tropicalia via Laurel Canyon shuffle that lifts the album's heart rate and recalls some of the work of Devendra Banhart, while Florence-Jean is catchy '60s pop and closer Random Fearless adds some of Crosby, Stills & Nash's looser moments to the mix. Another gem from this consistent and inventive songwriter.

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