For Chris DuPont, a fresh start begins with finding higher ground.
The Ypsilanti indie folk singer-songwriter ascends to heavenly heights on his latest hopeful, breathtaking single, “Retrieve,” now available on all streaming platforms.
“It’s a song about trying to make someone feel seen and believed when they’ve shared a really difficult story with you. It’s really meant to be sort of a power anthem, and on a personal level, I’m just so grateful that it’s as exciting to listeners as it is to me,” DuPont said.
“And on a professional level with this being an unprecedented time putting out an album in the middle of a pandemic with no real hope of touring on it, I decided this just needed to be the first thing people hear. Listeners who have been with me for a while will have heard it already, and I wanted this to be the first impression of anyone coming into my music cold.”
To the contrary, listeners will receive a warm welcome while absorbing the emotional authenticity flowing through “Retrieve,” which blends glistening, frenzied acoustic strums and spirited cello into a soaring symphony of sparkling piano, uplifting bass and cozy drums.
DuPont intimately reflects, “There’s a fullness beyond fatigue/No, nothing is clean if you choose to live/I didn’t anticipate the ways I’d be undone/But on the other side of a breakdown/Is a silver lining for you darlin’/When everything that died in you is fertile in your garden.”
“I can’t get away from the theme of death and rebirth and uprooting and re-rooting in my music, and I think one reason I wanted to go with a garden image is because life and recovery are really dirty and messy. And to be a thriving human being doesn’t mean to do everything cleanly, everything perfectly,” said DuPont, who’s included haunting single artwork by The Crane Wives’ Emilee Petersmark.
“This is a very hard concept for me as someone who grew up in a very black and white thinking religious paradigm where there’s this idea of striving to be pure or perfect. I wanted to embrace the dirt with this whole body of work and especially that song.”
Planting Fruitful Collaborations
Instead, DuPont unearths nutrient-rich sonic soil and plants fruitful collaborations on “Retrieve” with indie pop singer-songwriter Olivia Dear, Frances Luke Accord’s Nick Gunty (vocals), Christina Furtado (cello), Billy Harrington (drums) and Luke Jackson (bass). Together, they create a tender, ethereal respite for those seeking solace from the lingering uncertainty in a turbulent world.
“This is one where Nick had his hands deep in it. He flew in and helped with a lot of the core tracking for ‘Retrieve.’ He was literally positioning the drum microphones alongside me, Billy and Luke, so he did a lot of the practical engineering stuff and was there as the song got built from the bones up,” said DuPont, who transformed his longtime stage staple to a rejuvenated studio version.
For the studio version of “Retrieve,” DuPont also shares magical harmonies with Dear as they sing, “Whatever you want to tell me, I believe it/You may come to think your worth is gone/We may retrieve it.”
“I had Olivia come and do the video with me at Willis Sound shortly after the song was written, and I wanted to get a cool live version out of the song. That just went so beautifully that having her on this song felt like a no-brainer. I just wanted to do what we did live, but expand it.”
DuPont also expands his musical prowess on “Retrieve” through lush, sophisticated guitar work that serves as its sleek instrumental centerpiece. A dizzying set of harmonics, pull-offs and motions surround listeners as they digest the track.
“For years, I’ve always been able to play the guitar more intricately and aggressively than I choose to do in my songs. Honestly, it was a fun puzzle for me to take the tricks and moves I know how to do and shift them into something new and musical that was challenging. I wanted to use folk instrumentation to allude to breakdowns because I come from a hardcore background and wanted to find a way to stay in acoustic territory, but reference that feeling,” he said.
Flooding into New Material
“Retrieve” also serves as a beautiful autumnal prelude to Floodplains, DuPont’s first full-length studio album in five years. With 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 for his third studio album due out Jan. 22.
“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,” DuPont said.
In the meantime, DuPont will drop a new three-track teaser EP, Sandpaper Hymn, on Nov. 19 as another welcoming preview to Floodplains. He also will perform a special livestream set that night as part of The Ark’s Family Room Series to coincide with the EP’s release.
“I didn’t want to keep sitting on the material, and all of my favorite artists tend to put out a song or two at a time. And when the time is right a couple of months later, the full-length album comes out,” he said.
“These tracks have only been played live a couple of times, and it’s also a pretty brave set because it’s very lyrically heavy stuff. It’s going to show off some of the sonic left turns that we decided to take. For new listeners, it will be a treat, and old listeners will be hopefully excited while scratching their heads.”
Livestream show details:
8 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Thursday, Nov. 19