Damien Jurado to play the Turf Club

If variety is the spice of life, singer-songwriter Damien Jurado is guzzling Tabasco.

Joe Kellen

Singer-songwriter Damien Jurado never expected to sell out the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

It was even more surprising that the crowd paid keen attention.

“It’s weird,” he said. “The shows are getting quiet now. No one looks away anymore.”

Jurado has toured for 18 years, but the most recent trek supporting his new record, “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son,” put him on a cross-country journey of packed houses. It’s an odd reality for a musician who isn’t used to the spotlight.

 “I’m sort of an artist who has sabotaged himself and purposely went in different directions,” he said.

Looking at his catalogue from a distance substantiates the claim. From the understated pop folk of 2008’s “Caught in the Trees” to the electric Americana barrage of 2002’s “I Break Chairs,” it’s evident Jurado isn’t concerned with consistency. 2000’s “Postcards and Audio Letters,” a collection of found recordings from tape players and answering machines, displayed Jurado’s experimental side as well.

“Growing up in the ’70s, punk rock and disco and James Taylor were all a part of me,” he said of his always-changing sound. “I didn’t own records or 8-tracks; I depended on the radio.”

On “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son,” Jurado builds off his 2012 album, “Maraqopa.”

“It feels like ‘Maraqopa’ was about setting the scene for the larger story and this one puts you inside it,” he said.

“Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son” achieves a sweeping, cinematic tone with songs that groove their way into showcasing Jurado’s natural storytelling. “Silver Timothy” is a perfect example. The soft chanting chorus — “go back down / don’t touch the ground” — and a swing strong enough for a Quentin Tarantino montage together create the experience of feeling stories, not just listening to them.

“I’m not a person that talks about my personal life in my songs,” he said. “A lot of singer-songwriters do, but I moved around a lot as a kid. I was always a spectator.”

This is the first tour in several years Jurado has done without a backing band, which he finds personal enough already.

He said all of the energy focused on him when playing solo is overwhelming, but he’s beginning to get used to it. Being a fan of punk and hardcore growing up, Jurado remembers the lack of pretense in that scene and how he felt equal to the performers he admired.

“I used to hide at shows,” he said. “Now I go out to the merch table and engage with people, and I find that it’s really important to see those faces.”

Most importantly for Jurado, his entire career is predicated on his own terms.

“I’m just a person with a guitar and an imagination,” he said.

 

What: Damien Jurado
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Turf Club, 1601 W. University Ave., St. Paul
Cost: $13-15
Age: 21+