Madi Diaz: Weird Faith (ANTI-) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Madi Diaz

Weird Faith

ANTI-

Feb 09, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Madi Diaz opens Weird Faith with a question and a confession: “What the fuck do you want?/‘Cause I’ll give you all that I’ve got.” Those opening lines encapsulate Diaz’s sixth full-length album, a record that is often tender and unfussed in presentation, yet full of unsparing honesty. Diaz is always more than willing to leave it all on the line. That certainly was the case with her 2021 effort History of a Feeling, a record that often simmered with rage and heartbreak, but also brought her new acclaim after over 15 years in the industry.

Since then, Diaz has embarked on her first solo tour in nearly a decade, collaborated with indie darlings like Angel Olsen and Waxahatchee, and even joined Harry Styles’ live band. Diaz has received some long-overdue recognition, yet very little of that newfound spotlight is visible on Weird Faith. The record does not live in the shadow of its predecessor as much as it navigates its aftermath. Where History of a Feeling followed the dramatic and often messy implosion of a relationship, Weird Faith examines new love in all of its rocky contradictions.

Like History of a Feeling, Weird Faith is a deeply interior album, one that unravels Diaz and leaves her completely open. Where anger and hurt defined her previous effort, uncertainty is often the driving element of Weird Faith, which brings deeper stakes to its lyrics. When Diaz sings of opening herself up on “Same Risk,” love isn’t a drug, a long road, or a battlefield, it is a “suicide pact.” Obsessive and anxious thoughts swirl throughout the record. “Everything Almost” and “Get to Know Me” map the walls Diaz puts up to protect herself from heartbreak, holding herself back from fully sharing herself with a partner. Elsewhere Diaz offers vignettes of fading love affairs. She sings of a relationship that reignites and quickly flares out on “Don’t Do Me Good,” dueting with Kacey Musgraves, and narrates a long-term relationship’s slow death in “For Months Now” (I’ve been leaving you for months now/I just haven’t found a way out/I don’t love you like I used to/I just don’t know how to tell you”).

Despite these lingering fears, Diaz never seems to doubt that her love affairs are ultimately worth the risk. Interspersed with the record’s more dour confessions are portraits of a warm and pastoral life that Diaz dreams of. “Kiss the Wall” paints the portrait of Diaz’s idyllic best-case scenario: “We’ll make 50 good years and then we’ll both die/Kids will have kids of their own down the line/No one will even know we were alive/Except for the garden.” Her dream is fundamentally a simple one, yet the dark irony is it is always out of reach, colored by the uncertainties, hurts, and resentments that populate the rest of the album. The answer Diaz seems to find is in the title track, “Weird Faith.” “And I wanna learn to leave/And I wanna learn to stay/Cause every love brings a lesson/And I’m gonna be tested/So I’m gonna have a heart of gold/And I’m gonna have weird faith.”

Diaz braces against this theme of “weird faith,” holding onto the idea that each love holds a lesson and each lesson will bring her closer to where she is meant to be. The notion has an openhearted simplicity, and the album itself draws upon that sense of openness. While not necessarily scant, the instrumentation on the record is organic and conventional. Often, Diaz casts herself as the serene folk singer, drawing you in with only her vocals and guitar, as on “Weird Faith” or “Hurting You.” Still, Diaz and her co-producers also imbue the record’s heights with a sense of space and scale, layering tracks like “Get to Know Me” or “Obsessive Thoughts” with echoing, emphatic drums and layers of crashing guitars.

However, whether Diaz is working with cavernous soundscapes or skeletal confessions, she remains the inexorable focal point. Much like History of a Feeling, Diaz can bring to life love’s thorny emotions and render them in a singular voice, all without losing their universality. That remains her greatest strength. Her lyrics are plainspoken and deeply quotable, but they also speak to complex realities and difficult feelings. She’s able to give voice to innermost thoughts in poetic verse, yet the songs’ choruses often tumble out in a rush, such as on “KFM” when Diaz confesses, “I don’t know if I wanna kill, fuck, marry you forever/God I wanna kill, fuck, marry you forever.”

In these moments it feels like she is using a shared universal language of jumbled emotions and conflicting impulses, saying more by never quite saying enough. That ability to conjure beauty in simplicity, say more with less, and draw resonance from unexpected corners sets the record apart, revealing it as the work of a seasoned and confident songwriter. With Weird Faith Madi Diaz once again gives all that she’s got, crafting a stormy and searching chronicle of falling headfirst into new love. (www.madidiaz.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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