Saint Bartlett

Damien Jurado

The opening song on Seattle songwriter Damien Jurado’s latest is a tune called “Cloudy Shoes,” where he announces “I thought it was impossible to live and love like you.” His voice is warm, worn-in, and reaches unexpected peaks when he continues declaring “I’m still trying to fix my mind.” It’s an odd and beautiful mix of sounds and notions. It sounds like his narrator is embracing the idea of salvation in love after a long period of hopelessness, but the many years of doubt linger. He can’t quite shake a tendency to lament, but he sure wants to. Saint Bartlett is full of this intoxicating mix of tentatively optimistic declarations made by a character too weary-sounding to be fully believed. On “Arkansas,” with those almost broken but tinged-with-honey pipes, he aches to connect, straining, “I want to believe you.” It is a gorgeously moody record, moving fluidly between soaring string-fueled anthems and sad, lo-fi folk. This is Jurado’s 10th release, and it’s a wonderful surprise to hear someone still challenge and entertain his audience with growth. His nearly two-decade-long recording career has yielded greater insight into the fragile mysteries of human experience and relationships, in its hard-won hopefulness, and Saint Bartlett is possibly his best.