Damien Jurado’s 2012 album Maraqopa was inspired by a dream about a rock star who chooses not to return from a quest to find himself. In its remarkable sequel, Jurado and producer-collaborator (and Shins member) Richard Swift imagine that character reborn, in arrangements suggesting a cross between Byrds co-founder Gene Clark’s 1974 cosmic-Americana masterpiece No Other and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s more playful dub experiments. Swift began helping Jurado mutate from folk singer to cosmic crooner on 2010′s Saint Bartlett, which still hewed to Jurado’s earlier depressive realism, but this time around, the transformation is complete, and striking.
An expansive yet concise album of psychedelic road songs — “Outside is nowhere but inside is endless,” sings Jurado in “Return to Maraqopa” — Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is illuminated by hallucinatory visions, such as flaming numerals in the sky (“Magic Numbers”) that will sear your eyeballs (“Silver Timothy”). Swift’s Mellotron, displaced vocals, and tribal outbursts suggest both celestial ascents and earthly returns, and Jurado’s lyrics trace a similar arc. “Keep me on the ground,” sings Jurado in “Silver Joy,” the album’s single guitar-and-voice track, but “be sure and wake me when eternity begins.” An intriguing subtheme on silver runs throughout the record, as our seeker encounters “Silver Katherine,” “Silver Donna” and other silver denizens during his journey to Jericho.
Although Jurado adamantly resists the “Christian musician” label, Brothers and Sisters is chock-a-block with Kabbalistic Christian imagery and allusions to death and resurrection. Consider it a new-millennium update of the limited-release 1960s and ’70s Christian rock that Swift and Jurado admire such as Azitis and Wilson McKinley. This weird and strangely uplifting album delivers more questions than dogma, while asking little more from you than a heady amen.