Chris DuPont poignantly reminds us to live in the moment.
“They’re about connecting with a human being in the moment and experiencing being apart from them and feeling like what Richard Rohr would call ‘that bright sadness of being apart.’ It kind of wrecks you, but there’s also joy in hoping for the return,” said DuPont, who’s also hosting a virtual release show tonight at 7 p.m.
“I loved the idea of taking the opportunity to put out that kind of work that isn’t actually talking about quarantine or isolation directly, but it talks about my experience of it and all the complicated things that come with it like isolation and desire. It just felt like my way of responding in a way that could be expressive instead of literal and head-on.”
DuPont directly tackles that emotional intensity on “Jawline,” a serene acoustic ballad about missing someone in the darkest of times. Sorrowful piano and weeping electric guitar simultaneously open the mind’s floodgates of loneliness while hope pumps freely through the heart and veins.
In response, DuPont tenderly sings, “There is a divot in my collarbone/From the cut of your jawline/There is this feeling of coming home/When you’re entwined.”
“I have a hard time being present right now. I’m always years into the future or obsessed with my past. My music tends to poke at that, like the fact that I’m really into memory and whatever isn’t right immediately now. ‘Jawline’ follows the trend that a lot of my writing is following now in that I’m really trying to be someone who’s actually present in my body,” said DuPont, who wrote the track last fall.
“A lot of the lyrics on Floodplains, too, are really a sort of reclaiming just being flesh and blood and being right here, right now, especially in myself, but also as it relates to another human being. ‘Jawline’ is a moment song about those visceral things like loving the way somebody’s bone is shaped and the way that it interacts with you when they come to embrace you.”
That fierce longing for an extended embrace also appears on “Visitor,” an expansive, cinematic ballad bursting with deep, echoing guitar loops swaddled in vibrant, soaring piano.
DuPont adds a welcoming autotune effect (akin to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) to his heartfelt vocals as he sings, “(If I) had unlimited time, eternal life, love, let me find you/My lover, my heroine, nothing needs to be said/If your days are harrowing, lay down your head.”
“Before this whole thing was breaking down, I’d taken a trip and had a beautiful, connected reunion with somebody and was looking forward to being near them again. That was on my mind, so I wrote this song, and it was right as quarantine was starting, but it wasn’t real to me yet. I just had this moment of expressing something very simple, which was like wanting to be near someone and hoping that you can find one another in the near future,” he said.
“I wanted to capture that intimacy of feeling and a little bit of a lullaby feel, and when you’re apart from someone, sleep can feel weird and a little unsettled. During those between times, I wanted to grab that and take that overwhelming, confined feeling and try to express it sonically.”
“Visitor” also quietly touches on the hopeful undertones of spirituality. In a sense, that spirituality reminds the head and the heart to stay optimistic and focused during a time of extreme uncertainty. Sonically, it’s also the epiphanous moment of knowing that uncertainty may seem like mere seconds in a lifetime filled with new beginnings.
“Your spiritual imagination is going to be in there, and none of us really knows what’s on the other side, but I feel like every culture is fascinated with the idea of that question, like ‘Will I be able to find you on the other side of this?’” DuPont said.
“When I wrote that, I was just imagining a moment of stillness, which is huge for me. They’re few and far between, but when you’re in one with someone that you’re really bonded to, there’s this desire for that to just be indefinite. I wanted to just grab that feeling and hold onto it for four-and-a-half minutes.”
DuPont’s latest two sonic embraces, “Jawline,” and “Visitor,” also provide an exhilarating preview of Floodplains, his first full-length studio album in five years. With Frances Luke Accord’s Nick Gunty as producer, the upcoming project will serve as an electro-acoustic exploration of memory, dream-state, lineage and redemption. DuPont will combine these introspective themes with the metaphors of a floodplain and personal roots throughout his third album.
“Now, they’re a little bit more acutely autobiographically tied to me, so a lot of it is about feeling uprooted and responding to traumatic experiences. We’re trying to take that and turn it into something beautiful and reclaim my relationship with myself and my body and really be someone who’s present in myself and in my relationship going forward,” said DuPont, who’s last release included 2017’s Live in A2.
“That record is gonna be coming out gradually, and I think we’ll be dropping quite a number of singles off that on Spotify before the record comes out. I’m ready to get with the times and just let this stuff out and not be precious about it.”