Damien Jurado’s Maraqopa is one of 2012’s sneakiest records, an album I spin once or twice a week without thinking while reading in bed or fiddling around in Excel at work. I’m in love with the sound of this album. The stellar guitar work is brought to life in a variety of different ways: the giant, echoing strums of “This Time Next Year” shimmer like a desert mirage, while “Nothing is the News” cracks open with a solo that saunters in through a saloon’s swinging doors. Even the basic chords that make up the backbone of every song are imbued with a certain weight and meaning, sounding bigger than they have a right to. Jurado’s vocals are uniformly warm but not somnambulant, and augmented by backing harmonies that always seem to hover in just the right place. He has a hearty voice and displays a lovely falsetto on occasion, like on the back-end highlight “Museum of Flight”.
Speaking of that song, the message embedded in its chorus is simple but meaningful, though my experience with this album has been mostly separate from its lyrical content. “I turned around, my life was changing / What did I learn? It’s not that easy.” Jurado is singing about a foolish, doomed love, but the lesson is transferrable. We’re all stubborn creatures, and it takes a few attempts to drill what matters most into our skulls. Whether it’s a personal truth or a failed relationship or some other painful realization, it’s never that easy; in Jurado’s hands the sentiment isn’t hackneyed or soggy, but a statement gleaned from experience, and it sticks with you, just like Maraqopa has stuck with me.
EDIT: Just for you, Jake:
Listen to “Museum of Flight” here.
Listen to “Nothing is the News” here.