The downtempo tracks are far less deceptive, but despite their minor keyed signifiers, they still catch you off guard. “Hard to Be” most directly refers to the aftermath of his fallout with God, challenging his Creator on putting us in that garden in the first place and mourning the divide between his family and himself that his doubt (or rather their continued faithfulness) has caused. “Lost My Shape” is a pointed fall-from-grace tale that is directed at no one in particular, but with lines like “you used to feel like the forest fire burning, but now you feel like a child throwing tantrums for your turn,” it’s hard to read it as a little autobiographical. After all, between disappointing his family (“Hard to Be,” “When We Fell”), failing his daughter (“Bless This Mess,” “Please Baby Please,” “In Stitches”), and heaping suspicion and anger on God (the whole album), he has pretty hard feelings toward himself. And with that in mind, while it is a deftly crafted and honestly written album, it is not one to be entered into lightly.
One sidenote: I saw David Bazan play a house show shortly after his wife gave birth to their second child at home. He played Hard to Be, and after singing, “childbirth is painful,” shook his head and whispered “oh shit” before continuing to the next line.