It’s hard for me to talk about David’s solo career without comparing it to Pedro the Lion(which was kind of his solo project anyway). And so with that in mind I have been listening to Curse Your Branches, and I love it. But I listened to Control this morning and clearly this album doesn’t seem to hold the same weight as Pedro in it’s prime.
By this point we all know David’s story. Preacher’s kid, turned questioning christian, turn rebel, turned agnostic. In all phases David has delivered great album after great album (minus the Headphones record which has some pretty weak tracks on it). Control moved away from spiritual themes and Achilles Heel mostly stayed away. And while Dave strayed from the spiritually honest lyrics and perfected his song writing skills, many fans hope for a return on David Bazan, the spiritual lyrical master. And Curse Your Branches is that album… although not for Christ.
Musically Curse Your Branches is much more refined then Fewer Moving Parts and it really doesn’t sound like anything you’d hear on a Pedro the Lion record. Dave’s voice has never sounded better. Between David’s admittance that he no longer has a christian faith and is an agnostic, Curse Your Branches plays like a journal chronicling his journey, questions, alcoholism, and decision. It’s devoid of the vulgarity that has been found on previous Bazan affiliated records. And it’s a beautiful record. Between Dave’s masterful wordplay and the right instrumentation to compliment each track Curse Your Branches is up near the top of my list for best records I’ve heard in 09.
The album’s opener, Hard to Be (my favorite track), is a piano based track where David pronounces “There would be no going back”. The album moves up and down, each song causing you to reach for the lyrics sheet and engage yourself completely in what David is saying and try to relate to or understand where he is coming from. It’s a very smart album. David has always been one of my favorite lyricist and Cures Your Branches is right on par. Although this will probably alienate a lot of his christian fan base (if the songs of sex and swearing already didn’t) but I imagine Dave is ok with that.
The albums closer, In Stitches, is a gorgeous song that is Bazan’s break-up with God song. It’s the prettiest song on the album and one heart wrenching piece of music.