Ben Zaidi Shares “Jerusalem” & “Only Forever” Tackling Identity & Climate Change; Debut Album Out 6/3
April 15, 2022 BY Claire Julian
Today, emerging artist and poet Ben Zaidi unveils two new tracks from his forthcoming debut album. Listen/share “Jerusalem” and “Only Forever,” and pre-order Acre of Salt HERE, set for release June 3 on Nettwerk. Tune into his Fender Presents exclusive performance of “Only Forever” at Sound City Studios on April 20 HERE.
WATCH + SHARE “JERUSALEM”
Acre of Salt was produced by Tony Berg (Phoebe Bridgers, Peter Gabriel, Beck) and recorded at Los Angeles’ Sound City Studios along with backing band members Ethan Gruska, Sebastian Steinberg (Fiona Apple,) saxophonist Sam Gendel and Kane Ritchotte (Portugal. The Man.)
Of new song “Jerusalem,” Zaidi explains, “It is a strange fate being of mixed heritage in the whitewash of America. Often it feels like the many cultures of my ancestors have been diluted, and I have been left with no heritage rather than many… I am starting, however, to see this disorientation as an identity of its own.”
Zaidi continues, “Manzur Zaidi was my grandfather I never met. He and his family were Pakistani, and lived through the partition of India… I use their Arabic family name and my Hebrew first name to try to combine the two lineages that most describe my parents. It was only later that I discovered ‘Ben’ means ‘son.’ and that ‘Zaidi’ is also a Yiddish word, for ‘grandfather.’”
WATCH + SHARE “ONLY FOREVER”
On Earth Day, Zaidi will be holding a “filibuster for the climate,” in which he will perform “Only Forever” for several hours outside the Eastern King County PSE headquarters in his hometown of Seattle. The performance will be to protest the building of more fossil fuel infrastructures despite the current climate crisis.
Born and raised in Seattle, Zaidi is a Harvard-educated poet whose debut album explores a variety of themes: death, racial identity, quarter-life changes, and the loss of innocence that comes with a rapidly decaying planet. Growing up with a lot of Northwest music influences, ultimately lyric-heavy albums such as Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ and The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, as well as Joni Mitchell’s Blue, were in heavy rotation while writing his new album.
Much of the record was influenced by a long drive down I-95 from Brooklyn to Florida to visit a friend who had been diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and going through chemo. “And that obviously was the first smack in the face of, ‘Oh, we’re not invincible anymore’ It’s not like, ‘Oh our whole life is ahead of us stretching out in front of us,’ but instead there is a certain frailty that this is all precariously balanced on. And I think the album’s grappling with that.”