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David Bazan, ‘Strange Negotiations’ (Barsuk)

The fact that he’s going by his Christian name (sorry!) may be part of it, but on his second solo album, David Bazan seems perfectly happy to trade Pedro the Lion’s faith-based inscrutability for up-the-middle directness. When you combine the lyrics — declarations like “I’m a goddamn fool and I love you” — with Bazan’s husky baritone, Strange Negotiations suggests an Americana vet like John Hiatt more than an indie lifer. But the change serves him well on “Eating Paper,” which works simple wonders with a chunky guitar riff and a steady cowbell, just as the Lord intended.