Seattle native Damien Jurado has spent almost two decades slowly building up a reputation as one of the finest craftsmen around when it comes to songwriting.

On the live stage, many of his greatest moments have come when he has greeted an audience all on his own, connecting with fans through a stripped-back level of intimacy that can be all too difficult to find during the current era of endless shoegaze wannabes and laptop producers.

But on this occasion, within the stunning – if occasionally echoey – surroundings of Salford’s St. Philip’s Church, Jurado performs with the backing of his latest ensemble, The Heavy Light.

There’s a heartwarming moment when he tells the crowd just how joyous it is to be able to present his songs with a group such able musicians whom he is also lucky enough to also call friends.

The extra dimension that is provided by the backing band is a welcome one – especially when it comes to the more sonically-expansive material from new album, Visions of Us on the Land.

When Jurado and The Heavy Light really take of it is thrilling to see how songs that feel like they must have been borne out of acoustic isolation are brought to life.

The set is what could probably best be described as a journey through majestic soul, but there are still a couple of semi-wig-outs to boot.

The strength of the newer material is summed up by the fact that lead single ‘QACHINA’ seems to have become an instant centrepiece of the set. At times the occasion requires absolute silence from the adoring audience, but this track is received with rapturous cheers.

Jurado returns for an encore that starts with him sitting down alone. ‘Metallic Cloud’ is a poignant and encapsulating way to wrap things up, while ‘Kola’ again sounds like an instant classic. Jurado is organically becoming one of the most prolific and consistent singer-songwriters of his generation. Bliss.

Patrick Davies

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