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Damien Jurado – Caught in the Trees

Released on Secretly Canadian, 9/9/08

Damien Jurado is a veteran of the indie rock scene and it shows on his ninth studio release, Caught in the Trees. Unfortunately, he appears too comfortable and the album passes by with only mere glimpses of Jurado's innovativeness and capability as a singer/songwriter.

The record kicks off with the most upbeat track (also the first single) “Gillian Was a Horse". It's a nice, groovy acoustic rocker that sees Jurado performing a duet with friend Jenna Conrad, who complements his voice quite nicely and introduces a soothing vocal sound regrettably absent from the rest of the album. The record is also much more subdued in comparison to "Gillian" and by using it as the opening track it draws you in but gives you false hope as it segues in to the dull and sophomoric “Trials".

By the middle of the album, the songs start to bleed into one another with picked acoustic strings and cellos dominating, creating a monotonous drone that is weary to listen to. When Jurado does decide to pick up the pace, the hooks are noticeably absent. In fact they are noticeably absent from most of the album and that is its main error. It's clear that Jurado can write a good tune as evidenced by “Gillian Was a Horse” but it appears as if he's reaching for the rest of the album and it's barely missing his grasp. The only other respite on the album is “Paper Kite” which invokes Nick Drake and while Jurado gets nowhere near the ingenuity Drake had with just a guitar and breathy vocals, it's a quiet song that actually gels.

Caught in the Trees definitely illustrates Damien Jurado's abilities as a singer/songwriter that warrants nine albums, which makes it all the more frustrating to watch him miss his mark.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars