Last summer, I became enamored with a set of songs - a paradox in sounds. Guitar chords that were stripped down, yet drumming with vibrations. An honest voice that reverberated between a haunting falsetto and a cry in the darkness. A production that somehow balanced feeling intimate with the echo of a thousand voices falling from space.
It also didn't hurt that the new album was sprung from a dream about a guy who gets lost in the desert.
I was getting lost myself, at the time, and feeling a bit lost too. I was spending a little too long up in the air, splitting weeks between homes and feeling a general sense of vulnerability that comes with being ungrounded.
In times where balance is tested, I believe in being gentle on oneself. I also believe that art can help too.
And so, whenever I landed from my weekly flights, I'd come back to a New York City apartment that was still mine- the last standing bastion of a solitary life in transition. I'd light candles and open the windows wide, to let in the warm summer air that I missed while moving through various vestibules of artificial air. I would lie on the cold wood floor, press play on Damien Jurado's Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, and feel grounded - in myself, in my current space, in the now. And over time, I began to grasp an awareness that external circumstances remain just so unless we shift perspective and see them not as the enemy, but as parts of our story in time.
On Friday, I found myself time-traveling back to that space through Damien Jurado's performance at Brighton Music Hall.
It was a small, intimate crowd, donning snow-boots, sweaters, and a connection to these sounds for reasons - unique, every one. Acoustic versions of songs, like "Museum from Flight" and "Working Titles" from his earlier Richard Swift-produced albums, Maraqopa and Saint Bartlett, recounted earlier incarnations inspired by that mythical dream. These tracks were juxtaposed by the psychedelic visions and cosmic mysteries presented in Brothers and Sisters, and self-deprecating commentary by a typically warbling Jurado himself.
The crowd swayed to "Silver Timothy", laughed as Jurado stumbled his way through "Ohio", and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I let myself be overwhelmed by emotion. Standing in the glow of a musician whose music was made meaningful, who helped move me to a place of peace - in a time where there was peace to be found - felt like a warm embrace. And doing so, on the other side of that particular life transition, made the moment even more bittersweet.
This wasn't the first time that I've found solace in sounds borne into my life at the right time. Music is a powerful energy, and one that disregards the onward beat of time. It can stir a memory or even trigger a change. But the key is, it move us, and if we're lucky, it does so back to a place of balance, so we can eventually move forward and press play.
(Photo by Terrance Doyle)