While Damien Jurado's fans already know what an accomplished and thoughtful singer/songwriter he is, on I Break Chairs, he also proves that he can rock with the best. With his band Gathered in Song (named after one of his EPs), Jurado puts his finely crafted lyrics in a completely different setting, matching his wound-up emotions with cranked-up guitars. But the most impressive thing about I Break Chairs isn't just that Jurado proves he can rock, it's that he can rock in a variety of ways and sound equally convincing, whether it's the rousing roots rock of "Paperwings"; the jangly, early-'80s college rock-inspired "Birdcage"; or the elliptical, Pixies-eqsue punk-pop of "The Way You Look." I Break Chairs also features a diverse yet cohesive production that spans the bright, power-poppy sheen of "Big Deal" to the brooding, lo-fi "Dancing," which sounds like it was recorded in a dive. Likewise, the album showcases a wider range of emotions than any of Jurado's previous work. While beautiful, heartbreaking ballads like "Never Ending Tide," "Inevitable" and "Like Titanic" are par for the course for Jurado, an optimistic, even uplifting tone -- epitomized by "Parade" and "Lose My Head" -- runs through the album, making it as emotionally deep as it is musically diverse. Though it's not exactly a typical release for Jurado, I Break Chairs sets a new standard for his work.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
feat: Gathered In Song