Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
I have had mixed feelings about Damien Jurado’s working relationship with Richard Swift. The relationship has gotten better with each record and I think it’s produced some of Jurado most interesting work and a bunch of songs I love. Visions Of Us On The Land is Swift and Jurado’s best collaboration to date. By simplifying and streamlining the arrangements, the two have created a wonderful indie pop record that’s easy to listen to.
The highlight track on this record is Exit 353, and Jurado makes you wait for it. Super poppy, with a great, unconventional hook. The songs just moves along, verse to verse, and what I’m calling the hook is really just a refrain that ends the track. But it’s catchy as hell and long after you’ve spun the track the words will be echoing in your brain. Or maybe with age the refrain of “I was an old man” just sticks with me a little more than it used to. It’s an absolute gem of a song and easy to see why it was the lead single from the record. It’s also crazy to think that Jurado wasn’t even sure if the song had a place on the album.
Visions still has it’s fair amount of quirkiness. I get the vibe of Wilco covering Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds. And I don’t hate it. But I’ll be honest, a lot of the songs have a similar vibe. Which again, I don’t hate. What makes me like Visions more than the pervious Jurado/Swift outings is how scaled back Visions is. There’s a lot more space for Jurado to be Jurado with just a guitar and vocal.
There are a bunch of songs on Visions, and I like the record. But there’s only really one song that stands out and really does anything for me. It’s my favorite record Jurado and Swift have done together. But there’s not a whole lot here that grabs me. Even owning the vinyl, I find myself putting the record on and enjoying it, but not really stopping and diving in. I give the record 4 out of 5 stars. Good, but not great.