Known first and foremost as the front man of the Christian Rock band Pedro The Lion, Bazan gained the reputation for being a masterful songwriter. Now, solo he just released an album, Curse Your Branches which brings forth a collection of songs about leaving Evangelical Christianity to a newly found Agnosticism. He may have lost much of his early fan base which could be addressed in the title track, “All fallen leaves/should curse their branches/ for not letting them decide where they should fall/and not them refuse to fall at all/digging up the root of my confession/if no one planted it how does it grow/why are some hell bent on there being an answer/while some are quite content to just not know.” Bazan’s new direction in religious affiliation provides for a whole new audience of listeners who will appreciate the honesty in his examination of the struggle to believe.
The opening track “How To Be” creates the tone that Bazan forges with his new record when he sings out, “It’s hard to be/a decent human being.” The allusions to the Garden of Eden are luminous “Ignorance made us hungry/information made us no good.” Though there is no definitive answer the song is evoking listeners to appeal to an unknown, “So I swung my tassel/to the left side of my cap/knowing after graduation/there would be no going back.” This song could be paired with Dar Williams “Teen for God” when she sings, “I wish I had a god/ for such cynical times.” In this song, Williams takes the perspective of how the girl feels about the black and white God she knew in her childhood, and makes allusions to the cynical times ahead. Like Williams, Bazan is speaking of the former mindset and cutting ties loose.
The song “Bearing Witness” resonates with Bazan’s frame of mind, “Though it may alienate your family/ and blur the lines of your identity/let go of what you know/and honor what exists/ that’s what bearing witness is.” Bazan is challenging traditional notions of spreading the word. It takes a lot of guts to sing about what you think, especially when you aren’t trying to be on a platform; Bazan takes ease in his Agnosticism through his humble lyrics. While Bazan’s music now must find a new audience his subject remains the same, and he’s created some of the most beautiful songs about the spiritual living in recent memory.
There are reviews and interpretations out there that this is a break-up album. Though, it can also be considered to be about an ongoing struggle. It undeniable that it’s weighed material though Bazan seems to be approaching the subject on the other side of the storm. No matter in what light it’s considered Bazan has produced a collection of beautifully lyrical and melancholy music that a joy to hear.