Sad state

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

There's something about this state that inspires songwriters to break out their most hopeless tales of despair. Neil Young, of course, had Kent State to send his brain spinning, and in "Carry Me Ohio," Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek looked to his home state for comfort and stability in the wake of a terrible breakup.

"Ohio," Damien Jurado's best-known song, is not a cover of Young's famous protest anthem, but an equally somber rumination on separation, backed by the gentle guitar, mournful harmonica and sad-eyed vocals that used to be Jurado's stock in trade.

Since that beautiful ballad emerged on 1999's breakthrough Rehearsals for Departure, Seattle preschool teacher Jurado has gone the Judas route, following his muse to electrified indie-folk not unlike the work of former collaborator David Bazan of Pedro the Lion. He's become the sort of well-rounded singer-songwriter that will provide future music geeks with hours of pleasant discoveries.

Jurado's latest, Caught in the Trees, adds many fine selections to his rich library of music. Lead single "Gillian Was a Horse" gallops to glory with boy-girl vocals, no-nonsense rhythm guitar and piano straight out of a saloon. But there's plenty of quiet Jurado, too.

The likes of "Predictive Living" and "Everything Trying" show that the guy who wrote "Ohio" will still have many such songs in his back pocket when he comes here this weekend.