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Last night at the Irenic in North Park, Damien Jurado played by far the most intimate and beautiful show I’ve ever seen.

He is often compared to the short story writer, Raymond Carver. His songs come from authentic places of love and loss, steeped in the wear of the human experience. The album, Visions of Us on The Land is freakin’ poetry.

Sitting on the floor of the historic church venue, fans lounged- soaking in the smoky vocals and poetic lyrics of this folk legend. Jurado played solo, and sat on stage with a guitar, a microphone, and a music stand. During the performance he even pointed out, “I like this stand, it makes me feel…professional… but inept. It’s okay because it’s the inept tour.”

When you watch Jurado perform, you can’t help but feel special. He intentionally creates performances that are stripped-down and raw. It wasn’t a big crowd, no one took out their phone … it’s what folk was intended to be.

When I asked Jurado about how he managed to stay somewhat underground despite his success, he told me how he never intended to become “big.” That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a huge hand in how we think of indie folk rock today. He is known for mentoring artists like The Head and The Heart and J. Tilman of Father John Misty – he even joked about how J. Tilman called him earlier asking for some advice.

He introduced one song by saying, “this song doesn’t make any sense, I just wrote down a lot of images in my mind and thought they all sounded cool together.” Jurado is like the forefather of indie folk. And man, do we love him for that.

It’s refreshing to know that Jurado exists in a world so consumed with the fast-paced and mass-produced. It only makes sense that he chose the Irenic to end his West Coast tour. “This is it for the West Coast Tour,” he said at the end of the set, “I can’t go farther than this.” Someone in the audience called out, “But what about Waterworld! You could go there.” Jurado looked down, as if in confession, saying into the microphone, “I can’t swim… so I can’t go to Waterworld. And now you all know that I can’t swim.”

Highlights of the show included “A.M. AM,” “Kola,” and “TAQOMA.” We can’t wait to see Jurado play this venue again. Make sure to check out his tour dates here.

Review By: Lauren Villa