Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun is a powerful album.The title should let you know this immediately. Damien Jurado describes Brothers and Sisters as the sequel to 2012’s Marqopa – which was based on a dream he had about a guy who leaves the house with no form of identification and simply disappears.
Working with the talented Richard Swift (who also produced the previous two Jurado records), Brothers and Sisters is all about the production. Far away acoustic guitars and loose vocals continue to anchor Jurado’s songs, but on this album they get swallowed by a sea of sound. If they released this album under a moniker, no one would be the wiser – this album is a true collaboration, as the production and the songwriting prove to be co-dependent.
The first song, “Magic Number”, drops you into a cacophony that wouldn’t be out of place on the White Album (especially the fuzzy funky bass line). And this sets up the mood for the entire record. It’s a lush and wandering collection of songs that doesn’t so much lead you on a journey, but injects you with random portraits of each stop along the way. Lyrically, Jurado is witty and aware, all the while injecting religious undertones and half-prophetic phrases. Jurado and Swift are clearly enjoying themselves as they shape their own sonic world (and with a sound that is equally impressive and realized). Practically every song on this record plays upon anthemic qualities, propelling the mysteriously mythical vibe.
One of the finest songs on Brothers and Sisters is “Silver Katherine”, a stripped-back number that plays to many of Jurado’s greatest strengths; heartfelt vocal deliver, tender acoustic guitar, and the gift of melody. The song comes on as if a revelation amongst an ocean of discontent. This feeling continues on “Silver Joy”, a contemplative song that wants to rest;“Let me sleep in the slumber of tomorrow. There’s nowhere we need to be, that will not be there after.”
Unlike Jurado’s prior work, his vocals (and, therefore, his lyrics) take a sonic backseat to the intense production style. For the past two decades, Jurado has cultivated a sound that rests on his subtle delivery of introspective folk songs that rely on their sparseness for impact. Longtime followers of Jurado may question how much they actually like the newfound sonic territory of their beloved songster, but the deluxe vinyl edition provides an additional EP, entitled Sisters, containing stripped-down versions of the songs, as if a concession to his hardcore fans. (The songs that makes up Sisters were recorded live in one evening in Seattle, Washington at the Fremont Abbey with Jurado on acoustic guitar and background vocals provided by the “Silver Sisters Choir”. Sisters contains alternate versions of six songs from Brothers and Sisters and two unreleased songs. It is a wonderful sounding recording in its own right.)
Brothers and Sisters is an album that is constantly moving, as if the songs need not be defined. Just the kind of record that continues to reveal new things the more you spin it.
The vinyl is out via Secretly Canadian.