The sixth CD On My Way to Absence from Seattle's musical Steinbeck opens with a shooting and ends with a burial. In the middle, widows weep, lovers split, and friendships go rancid with resentment. Other singer-songwriters might slather on the strings, but Damien Jurado a gifted storyteller with an unsentimental eye for detail makes minimalism his m.o. The songs are bare as winter trees, built from brittle guitars and crackling percussion. When they finally erupt as ''Icicle'' does the contrast makes the combustion arresting.