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Madi Diaz – Weird Faith (Anti-)

There’s a long, long, long way between her debut album to the sixth offering, from 2007 to 2024, from the CD era to the epoch of the internet’s loss of innocence. In fine, yet not always compelling pop attempts in the vein of Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen to slow-burning and gorgeous minimal folk, with the current stop on quiet indie with introspective and blunt lyricism.

After 14 years of searches, trials and errors, Madi Diaz finally found her own distinctive style in the almost The 1975-tipped production, sparse piano motifs, Swiftian acoustic, and slightly electrified folk on the previous record, History of a Feeling. And she starts her new venture
right where she dropped the previous one three years ago. Maybe I will express not a very popular opinion, but I still like all her straight-up in-your-face pop hits like ‘Tomorrow’ or ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and wouldn’t mind if she recorded another smash full-length with cracking hooks and naïve lyrics. However, Weird Faith shifted very far from it and finds her at the peak of confidence and prowess, with subtle and shaky electric strums (‘Girlfriend’), kept to a tough minimum instrumentation consisting of weightless piano plucks intertwined with fluttery, almost The xx-ish fingerpicking (‘KFM’).

“What the fuck do you want,” she asks in the first line of the standout opener ‘Same Risk,’ as if addressing it not to her partner but to the listeners. This phrase could easily become a fine slogan for this record. Because after almost two decades of strolling through almost opposite genres and different collaborations, Diaz finally does whatever she feels to. Thanks to now Grammy-certificated Phoebe Bridgers and the Boys, almost every singer-songwriter received in the last five years a unique indulgence to just lay their feelings, as Diaz sings in ‘Saddest Factory Records’ Charlie Hickey co-written ‘Same Risk,’ “all out on the table,” without bothering about its popiness. I dare say that Weird Faith was also somewhat influenced by this new trendy folky fad, yet the roots of Diaz’s oeuvre lie somewhere in the rockish heritage of Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, and Tori Amos, as we can hear in ‘Don’t Do Me Good.’

Sometimes, this ’90s rockiness breaks out in the form of raucous ‘Obsessive Thoughts’ and ‘Kiss the Wall,’ filled with raging electric guitar licks. At times, she delivers folk-bent dirges and lullabies with emotive murmurs on the verge of, sorry, Michael Jackson (‘Hurting You’) or… Mostly, her airy vocals sound totally distinct. That’s funny, but I can even easily imagine how lyrically and sonically every one of these tracks morphs into Swift’s ‘Don’t Do Me Good.’ Despite that, it’s hard to move to trash the thought that during the whole album’s 41 minutes you listen only to a prelude — which is most noticeable on ‘Girlfriend‘ — to something much bigger than the whole record. Then — those lines about “same risks” and giving “it back like I do,” which are typical for new romances. Diaz adds that it’s also about a “new relationship to myself.” “Do you wanna get to know me,” she asks us, a partner, or herself on ‘Get to Know Me.’

Even though her lyrics are not as ornate and poetically compound as, for example, Laura Marling’s or Courtney Barnett‘s, being gracefully packed into sophisticated tunes, they can punch you in the guts even harder. “Do you think this could ruin your life/’Cause I could see it ruinin’ mine,” she recites on ‘Same Risk’ with such a direct approach that it’s hard not to shed a tear (even in public). Of course, we partly shall thank Sam Cohen’s detailed production skills, familiar to us from his own The Future’s Still Ringing In My Ears, for such minimalistic-yet multilevel sonics, but Diaz, with her ‘10,000-hour rule’ experience, after living a whole little life in the industry, knows almost like no one else there how to make a song work without using tired tropes, how to make pop without high-energy hooks, and how to force the listener to empathize with the story just with a few strong and straightforward rhymes.

Keeping in mind Diaz’s five previous albums that ranged from upbeat pop to alt-country and indie folk, her link-up with Waxahatchee, Angel Olsen, and Kesha, her participating in the soundtrack for Far Cry 5, touring in Harry Styles‘ live band, etc., we can surely say it’s a pretty diverse experience for a Nashville singer-songwriter. And the ability to direct such wide-ranging interests to one’s own lore makes her one of the most intriguing modern folk musicians of Tennessee alongside Margo Price, Erin Rae, and Julien Baker, and even far beyond. But what is more valuable, through this album she has known herself anew, and we’ve seen her much clearer. It’s nice to meet you, Madi!


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.