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Ghost Of David

Damien Jurardo
The Ghost Of David
(Sub Pop)

If you listen to the first track of Damien Jurardo's album The Ghost Of David, you'll probably wonder whether or not you can handle the weight of the remaining 12 tracks on the disc. In the song, he sings about dealing with a questioning husband while having an affair, while at the same time taking care of a brother who's slowly going crazy. With only an acoustic guitar, a touch of keyboards, and some chiming sounds, the wounded vocals still feel like a ton of bricks weighing on you because of the lyrical content.

Although it never quite gets to a happy level, the album doesn't quite dwell in such depressing territory for its entirety. Coming from nearly the same camp as singer/songwriters like David Bazan of Pedro The Lion (who actually makes an appearence on the disc playing drums and piano on a track) or even Mark Kozelek. While there's a full accompaniment on a couple of the tracks, most of them work in a more stripped-down way and it usually works much in the favor of Jurardo, giving even more of a spotlight to his plaintive and emotive vocals. And I really hate to sound like a mopey reviewer, but it's his songs with darker content and more sad arrangements that actually tend to work better.

After that first track, the album goes right into the very simple "Desert," but again it's really effective. It's only Jurardo and an acoustic guitar on the track, and although I'm not sure about the connection, the lyrical content of the song also draws comparison to Pedro The Lion with it's ruminitions on faith. "Great Today" moves along with a shambling, lo-fi drum backing and some acoustic guitars and organs, while "Tonight I Will Retire" comes in as quite possibly the prettiest song on the album with the low key piano and simple drum backing. Jurardo's vocals almost sound sleepy in the track and the simple beauty of it all make it a standout.

On "Parking Lot," Rosanne Thomas takes over on vocal duties and coming about halfway through the album, the song arrives as something just slightly different, yet cut of the same musical style. There's a bit of country twang her vocals and the keyboards and drum machines providing a backdrop give the track sort of a ramshackle feel that works well. The only track that really rocks out on the disc is the 2 minute "Paxil" and while it's something different it simply feels slightly out-of-place with the thick guitar feedback, filtered vocals, and clanking cowbell. Fortunately, the album closes out with several really great tracks, including the almost droning closer of "Ghost In The Snow." If you're a fan of singer/songwriter work that is stripped-down, especially work by Pedro The Lion, this would be well worth your time to listen to.

Rating: 7.25