Damien Jurado

For more than a decade, Damien Jurado has flown under the radar as this generation's Nick Drake. Jurado has a hushed, fragile vocal that's a pleasant complement to his minimal instrumentation. But what sets him apart from his deceased '70s counterpart is how well he crafts a string of despairing words together, words that are prettier heard than read: "Goodbye angel, hear you're successful/Maybe tomorrow, well, maybe you'll come back sometime/Hands in your pockets, here's where you left me/Only with memories when we were just 16/But the letters never came/So I waited by the phone to hear it ring."

While 1999's Rehearsals for Departure put Jurado on the map, his latest, And Now That I'm in Your Shadow, is undoubtedly his strongest. Aided by musicians Eric Fisher, Jenna Conrad and a couple of guests, Damien Jurado is no longer just the name of the songwriter and guitarist—it's the name of the band. From opener "Hoquiam" to "Denton, TX" to "Gas Station," it seems as though Jurado is a man constantly searching for something, yearning for old friends or a loved one in the distance. And like all good storytellers, he keeps us captivated until the end.

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