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Holding His Breath - EP

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Album Review

Damien Jurado's Holding His Breath EP continues in the downcast direction of the full-length Where Shall You Take Me?. While quite brief, it's a tense twenty minutes inside Jurado's world. "I Am the Greatest of All Liars" is a bitter and deliberate confession. "I'm the blood upon the sheets," he half-whispers, resigned to it. "I'm the lie that you will tell/I'm the soul that you will sell/I'm the vomit on your sleeve." And just like that, its quiet snare stops beating, and the song is over. "Oh Death Art With Me"'s quietly strummed melody is pretty charming, but then again so is 'Gentleman Death,' who courts poor Damien with a "nice bouquet of flowers for my grave." While written by Jurado, the latter track draws a direct line to "Butcher's Boy," the infamous, spurned, lover-murder-ballad he closes with here. Like those old folk songs, Jurado can illustrate self-hatred, hardship, or beauty with a less-is-more approach to inflection and deft instrumentation. "Now You're Swimming" is Holding His Breath's highlight. The song begins as your average, everyday indie rock on the wrong speed. But a simple adjustment shifts the entire song into a yearning, low-key chorus that's as good as anything on his past two records. Breath's tiny-import-label status might make it a chore to find. But big fans of Jurado (or even fans of Richard Buckner, whose work he suggests here) should enjoy this as an accompaniment to Where Shall You Take Me?.

Biography

Born: Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Urban folk singer/songwriter Damien Jurado quietly built up one of the strongest catalogs on the indie scene, earning high critical praise yet somehow never quite getting his proper due. Nick Drake had a definite impact on much of his work, but Jurado modeled his career on more idiosyncratic, unpredictable figures like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Randy Newman — songwriters who followed their own muse wherever it took them, whether fans and critics enjoyed it or not. His independence...
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Holding His Breath - EP, Damien Jurado
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