I've been a fan of David via Pedro the Lion for many, many years. I own all of his albums and he's one of the few artists that I've made sure to go out of the way to see live. In fact, I've seen him live twice, including on his tour for this album. Even at 35 years old, married with a child, after over 16 years of being active, David has only become more outstanding. His story of public religious turmoil and conflict with the Christian church is no secret... for someone to endure that level of personal struggle nakedly in front of the whole world, and keep his passion for sharing his music with us all is proof that David is not in the business for the fame, glory, or the money, as you can see by the $3.99 album price. Quite a few months ago, David ran a fundraiser to get this album made. Fans could donate $35-$45 to go toward David+Band's living expenses while they produced and recorded the album. Those that donated got an "I Helped Bazan Make A Record T-Shirt", the album once it was finished, *their name in the liner notes as an executive producer*, a pin, and a merch discount coupon. I am incredibly proud to say I am one of the executive producers of this album.
And as grateful I am to David, he is grateful to his fans. He's taken the time to reply to my me on his Facebook page on two different occasions. Not only that, I've had the pleasure of sharing a few words with him after the last show I saw, and since he saw I was wearing my "I helped Bazan" shirt, he, in the most sincere way, thanked me for helping out and shook my hand.
I share this with you because on one hand, the more you listen to his music, the more you get to know David inner-self, but on the other, you miss an equally important part of his personality and thus, are missing the entire context. However, once you get to realize his warm, down-to-earth, pragmatically satrical personality and passion for connection with others through his art, when you listen to the music, it suddenly unfolds into whole another dimension. Songs that might have seemed like a man's forlorn, nagging discontent with himself and the world, you realize are about his resolute, unyielding love and drive to protect his family. The transcendant meaning isn't necessarily hidden on purpose or even purposely meant, in the first place, it just sort of manifests itself when the mental context of the songwriter is applied and he unconsciously encodes that context in the semantics of the lyrics, the prosody of his voice, and the actual music itself. It's the truly remarkable effect of a true artist, one who thrives off of creating "Ars gratia artis" - art for arts sake, who feels an innate urge to create, who naturally produce complex, multi-layered, resonant expressions of humanity, who create art in it's purest form: "Ars est celare artem" - "It is art to conceal art."
Now, since David's albums are kind of a snapshot of whatever he's going through in life at the moment and since he has come far since he first started struggling with the loss of his faith, and for the meantime, has resolved to leave it behind, this album is a little different from David's previous albums. There is far less angst and fury, and it takes a more of a calm, often satirical nature, analyzing, criticizing, pointing out things about, etc. the current state of society, humanity, media and especially, politics.
According to an interview David did, the title song "Strange Negotiations" is about how certain fallacies are spread by people who basically believe it because they want it to be true and by biased journalists who malevolently and purposely manipulate their reader base by taking things out of context and/or phrase an inconclusive or completely false report/article in ways that vaguely suggest a conclusive answer in order to make people believe it. Sometimes these fallacies get spread so far and are so sensitive to bias, even if they're completely ridiculous ('strange'), the subject of the fallacy has to convince ('negotiate') that it isn't true. He gave an example of how Obama was supposedly a non-American born Muslim because there was a picture of him in a turban. The right wing media reported it with titles such as "Picture of Obama in traditional Muslim turban" and "Is Obama Muslim?" and conservatives carelessly disregarded all of the words that show it's complete speculation, and for the longest time, the entire Republican party were so positive Obama wasn't an natural born citizen and couldn't be president and would criticize and stubbornly disagree with anything he had anything to do with because he wouldn't show his birth certificate, even after someone found it and posted it online. It took Donald Trump bragging that Obama gave it to HIM during his election publicity stunt and him looking like an dumbass when Obama made a joke about him, for republicans to stop asking for the birth certificate. Even still, most won't accept that Obama is actually American.
There is a lot more political commentary in this album than just that. In "People" David criticizes "Trickle Down economics" and the lower class supporting Big Business during a recession by buying cheap substitutes and hurting themselves in the end. There is also a lot of criticism of society. In "Don't Change" David tells the story of a man who's alone in life except for people that he manipulates for his gain. He wakes up each morning saying he'll make a change, but goes to bed each night thinking how it was a good day to stay the same.
There are 2 songs on the album that aren't about any of that. The first is "Virginia" which is David "speaking" to a friend of his that committed suicide (I was told this was actually true) and telling him that he had a dream that he was still alive. Apparently, his friend's parents had asked David if he thought his friend had gone to Heaven or Hell when he killed himself. In his dream, he asked his friend this. He doesn't answer and only smiles "as if there was something [they] didn't know." The second is the final track on the album. It's a quiet, solemn song that I think David wrote personally to his Wife and/or daughter. In the song, he is leaving his wife/daughter a voicemail right about as he's leave on a flight. He tells her when he's on the plane, he'll be thinking about promises he keeps and that once he touches down late in the night he'll call her. He then goes on to tell her how he doesn't know who/what controls fate but it keeps bringing him home safetly. He acknowledges that he isn't going to live forever, but "death will have to pry [his] fingers loose" because he's not ever going to let go of loving her.
It's a very sweet end to a fantastic album.
I hope what I've shared with you will help you enjoy it even more.