If you do a quick search for Seattle bands, you're likely to find bands that span many genres: grunge, garage rock, heavy metal, even twee pop. One genre seldom associated with Seattle is spiritual folk. However, for nearly a decade and a half, Damien Jurado has been recording and releasing some of the best modern folk music to date, and Maraqopa, his 12th release, is no exception.

After receiving much praise for his 2010 release, Saint Bartlett, Jurado made the wise choice to team up once more with producer extraordinaire (and current member of The Shins) Richard Swift. With Swift’s guidance, Jurado expands on the great elements of Saint Bartlett to make Maraqopa even better. The result is nothing short of musical brilliance.

Maraquopa is a forthrightly spiritual album on which Jurado sings softly, yet with conviction, of his wavering between ultimate faith in God and regretful lack thereof. On "Life Away From The Garden” he sings, "There was a time when I believed you / When in doubt, I'd put my hand in your side." On "This Time Next Year" Jurado laments prayerfully, "I heard you call my name / You were outside my door / How did I not hear you before?" He continues though, almost joyfully, "A chance to be reborn / to never be alone / I should have done this long ago," making obvious the earnestness of his faith.

Most of the greatness of Maraquopa hinges on Jurado’s lyricism, a skill so rarely present in today's music. His skill with language should not to be taken for granted—his words interweave so thoughtfully and perfectly (yet seemingly effortlessly) with the music and the percussion. Jurado not only lets the listener into his thoughts, he extends his hand and guides him down the path on which he is walking and will continue to travel.

Although heavy in it's lyrical content, the overall vibe of Maraqopa is whimsical, playful and generally uplifting. The creative background vocals and harmonies add a nostalgic richness to each song. The clever use of synthesizers (a rarely-used instrument for Jurado), strings and the frequently used tremolo on the guitars coalesce so distinctively to create cohesiveness on the album. Oftentimes these days, new albums peak and quickly fade. Not so with Jurado. Maraqopa, like most of his albums is entirely beautiful and certain to stand the test of time.

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Label: Secretly Canadian

5 of 5 Stars

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