By David Werther.
David Bazan, Curse Your Branches (Barsuk Records, 2009)
Former front man and writer for the faith-friendly band Pedro the Lion, indie artist David Bazan begins Curse Your Branches with "Hard To Be." In it, he serves notice that he has graduated from his Christian faith, or as he puts it, moved the tassel from the left side of his square cap. He is mad at God for threats of damnation ("In Stitches" and "When We Fell"), and alternately incredulous about the story of the fall ("Hard to Be" and "Harmless Sparks") or ready to blame and curse God for it ("Curse Your Branches" and "When We Fell"). His witness now consists of wondering how anyone could base their beliefs on biblical autographs and miracles they've never seen ("Bearing Witness").
When Bazan is not busy indicting God, he is indicting himself, for his "lethal drinking to hopefully forget about you [God]" ("In Stitches") and its cost to his family. The songs that make up this double indictment are well written, and Bazan's slow, deliberate singing showcases his excellent lyrics, leaving behind a lingering sense of sadness. Curse Your Branches is, in many ways, a very fine piece of work. That said, it misses the mark in one crucial respect. In an interview with Relevant Magazine, Bazan grants that in "When We Fell," "I was really speaking to the popular version of what God is, the God of my upbringing and the most popular characterizations of Him." Curse Your Branches would have been an even stronger work if Bazan had chosen a better sparring partner.