With Weird Faith, Diaz , who “makes even the most immovable feelings open up with just a little time and space” (Pitchfork), comes up against a problem that has dogged songwriters since time immemorial: how do you write about romance, or love, without making it sentimental or fake? For Diaz, the answer was to explore how anxiety.
Madi Diaz has been making records and writing songs professionally since the late 2000s, but it wasn’t until she released 2021’s History Of A Feeling that she felt the glare of wider notoriety. It wasn’t her debut album, but it certainly felt like it. She made her daytime and nighttime television debuts, embarked on her first solo tour since 2014, supported Waxahatchee and Angel Olsen on tour, and collaborated with them on record. Harry Styles handpicked Diaz to open for him in arenas and stadiums in North America, and was so taken by her captivating live show, he asked her to be a member of his touring band, to sing alongside him all over Europe and the UK, as well as continuing to open the show in various cities. After three months on the road touring internationally, Diaz is back in Nashville and gearing up to release her new album, Weird Faith, perched on the precipice of her moment.
On her last album, History of a Feeling, Diaz confronted the dissolution of a long relationship and a nuanced breakup. “Writing that record was like throwing a dart at an emotional dart board,” she says. “I was trying to get closer to the bullseye of the core of what I was feeling with no goal other than processing my own grief.” Though it was scary to put those feelings out there for mass consumption, Diaz found the process of bringing the record on tour strangely healing. Fans screamed along to her set, and the power of hearing her words echoed back to her at a place like Wembley Stadium was affirming. “It's so empowering to stand in a room hearing girls yelling as loud as they can possibly yell,” she says. While she penned songs for artists like Kesha, Little Big Town, and more, time on the road renewed Diaz’s excitement about her own project, her own story.
On Weird Faith, Diaz once again examines a romantic partnership, but this time, her songs are about falling for someone and the endless self-questioning a new relationship inspires. “After being really burned by love – maybe relentlessly burned by it – the album is about being brave and trying again. Doing it differently,” she says. “It’s in our nature to try to be brave like that. You see the car crash coming. Maybe it won’t happen, but you're bracing for it anyway.” In the throes of new love, she repeatedly encountered the same questions: “Am I ready for this? Can I do this? Can I trust myself to know the good from the bad?”
The album’s stirring closer “Obsessive Thoughts” is about exactly that. It opens with quivering strings, as if in mimicry of a nervous heartbeat, before the chorus crashes in like a gale force, toppling any sense of unease. “It’s a lot, it’s a lot/ Obsessive thoughts,” she howls. The song will vindicate anyone who’s ever struggled with the same and while Diaz might consider those obsessive thoughts an impediment, they’re also what makes her a bold, singular songwriter. The poetry in her lyrics don’t obfuscate the reality of what she’s singing about: trusting another person with your heart is hard.
While writing Weird Faith, Diaz came up against a problem that has dogged songwriters since time immemorial. How do you write about romance, or love, without making it sentimental, schlocky, or fake? For Diaz, the answer was to explore how anxiety-inducing, if not downright humiliating falling in love can be. Weird Faith answers these questions bluntly, and Diaz says the record “chronicles a new relationship, but also a new relationship to myself.” This record exists between the time you say “I Love You” and the moment they say it back (or don’t). Album opener “Same Risk” acknowledges that feeling from the outset. “Do you think this could ruin your life? Cause I can see it ruining mine,” Diaz asks plainly. It’s a disarmingly honest moment, her barefaced and fearless lyrics becoming all the more impactful as the rhythm section briefly drops out of the mix. It’s but one of the breathtaking production choices Diaz made on the album with help from friends Sam Cohen and Konrad Syder. “Sam makes raw, grungy, rambunctious records, and I needed him to help me crack open the door and start sonically exploring what the record would be,” Diaz says about her time spent recording in Woodstock. “Later in Nashville, Konrad and I were able to push what we did even further, until it was beyond the sonic landscape of what I had set out to make.”
Diaz’s collaborative spirit is the result of living in Nashville, where she moves in a tight-knit group of songwriters. “It’s the type of place where you get into deep conversations with people at 2AM then go to the gas station for a six pack because you’re not done talking yet,” she says. Kacey Musgraves is one of those friends and she accompanies Diaz on the devastating ballad “Don’t Do Me Good,” a song that mourns the end of a relationship before the inevitable end. It’s desperately lonely, a woman’s admission that peace eludes her, but Diaz is bolstered by Musgraves, as if to indicate that she’s never truly alone, that there is always a friend on the other end of the line waiting on your call.
That difficulty of trusting someone with your heart comes to a head on “For Months Now,” which sounds like the hard-fought revelation at the end of a therapy session. “It’s about knowing a relationship is over, you just haven’t acknowledged it yet,” Diaz says. On “Hurting You,” she acknowledges it. “Hurting you is hurting me,” she fervently sings on the chorus, her stark words bolstered by the sparest production heard on the album. It’s a crushing song, but it’s also an auspicious one. When Diaz started writing Weird Faith, she knew it would be bigger than a love story. She didn’t yet know that she was rendering a self-portrait, one that captures the Madi Diaz of a fleeting moment in time, hungrily alive and forever searching. A search that has led to a record highlighting the human experience of spinning out on the fall into love, bold in its honesty, and matching the momentum of Madi Diaz.