David Bazan

Curse Your Branches

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David Bazan made no attempt to hide his Christianity with Pedro the Lion, so it's appropriate that Curse Your Branches -- his first full-length release as a solo artist -- begins with a reference to the Garden of Eden. "We ate the poison fruit," he sings over an acoustic guitar, "and now it's hard to be, hard to be, hard to be a decent human being." The rest of Curse Your Branches follows in that direction, with Bazan attempting to shore up his own faith in a world of sinful temptation. "Please, Baby, Please" is a folksy love song from an alcoholic husband, and "Bearing Witness" finds the narrator attempting to explain religion to his children. The music is organic and earthy throughout, although the occasional presence of strings and organ reminds us of the relationship (no matter how tenuous) Bazan still has with the Church. In the end, he doesn't offer any clear answers to the questions that Curse Your Branches puts forward, preferring instead to explore the possibilities of "what could be" without subscribing to any one solution. Doubt can be crippling, but it serves a positive purpose here, since Bazan has rarely sounded so convincing in his vocal delivery and songwriting.

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