Just in Time for Something by Damien Jurado (Review)

It’s not so much what Jurado sings but how he sounds doing it. (But what he sings is pretty darn good.)
Just in Time for Something - Damien Jurado

My favorite of Damien Jurado’s recordings has always been 2000’s Ghost of David. Not only does it feature some of his most powerful songs, such as “Tonight I Will Retire” and “Ghost Of David,” but the way in which it was recorded always stands out in my mind. The recordings are deliberately lo-fi, even for Jurado, and almost sloppy at times — you can hear Jurado slur his words, or sometimes get obscured by tape hiss and whatnot. And while they may drive audiophiles mad, there’s something about those imperfections that only adds to the album’s intimacy.

That same thought goes through my head while listening to Just in Time for Something. With this release, it’s not so much what Jurado sings but how he sounds doing it. Recorded onto salvaged analog tape using a tube-powered reel-to-reel from the ’60s, these songs don’t so much sound vintage as they do antiquated, broken down, and rusted. Which is absolutely perfect for Jurado.

Seemingly recorded in one take, we hear everything — Jurado tuning his guitar, flipping through his notes, mumbling song titles, and oh yeah, playing 5 little snapshots of nostalgia and longing. Great songwriters allow you the privilege of peeking into their lives, of seeing the world through their eyes. Jurado takes that to the extreme. Listening to this record, one feels as if they’re eavesdropping on what was never meant to see the light of day, or came across a recording that had been lost for the past 30 years in someone’s garage.

With 5 songs clocking in at just under 11 minutes, Jurado clearly seems to be operating under the “quality, not quantity” maxim with this EP. But Jurado has never been concerned with writing epic confessionals, which sets him apart from other singer/songwriters out there. Jurado has always been about the small things, the tiny details that get glossed over because they’re too mundane.

Gifted with a real eye for such details, and blessed with a fragile voice that never ceases to be affecting (especially when enveloped in the tape hiss and static here), Jurado spins those details into affecting little gems. “Prices” is a classic Jurado track, a catchy little number that finds him changing the clichéd phrase “Sometimes I love you so much it kills me” into something profound thanks to his delivery.

If you’ve never listened to Jurado, Just in Time for Something is probably not the best place to start; it’s not exactly the most essential release in the man’s catalog. Instead, I’d start with Rehearsals for Departure, followed by the aforementioned Ghost of David. Just be warned, though. Those who have fallen under Jurado’s spell tend to become a bit obsessive, so there’s a very good chance that you’ll eventually end up getting this EP anyways.


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