David Bazan + Passenger String Quartet, Volume I Out now, Undertow, davidbazan.com
With his latest release, David Bazan is breathing new life into his back catalog. This latest endeavour for the Seattle songwriter, who originally gained a following with his band Pedro the Lion, is an album of songs culled from throughout his career, each performed on acoustic guitar and accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet (who have performed with Tess Henley, Kris Orlowski, and Judy Collins, to name a few, and are led by one-time Best of Seattle winner Andrew Joslyn). Yet before the cynics accuse the songwriter of repackaging old goods with a well-worn gimmick, the ten songs here don’t sound that way at all. Instead of feeling rehashed, they feel reimagined. These carefully-chosen tracks feature selections that span the artist's career—from a song like PtL’s 1998 " When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run" to the title track from last year’s solo outing Strange Negotiations—and are evenly distributed between Bazan’s group and solo work. With this respectful dusting off, the orchestral treatment adds thoughtful elements like gentle, nuanced percussion and a playful feeling, bringing lightness and levity to Bazan’s intensely reflective lyrics.