LISTEN: Stark Instrumentation & Expressive Vocals Shine On Ben Zaidi’s “Jerusalem”

Born and raised in Seattle to a mixed-heritage family (his father is Jewish and his mother’s family is from Pakistan), Ben Zaidi crafted his stage name to honor his unique background. Taking influence from lyrical greats (Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, especially), and imbuing folk compositions with hip-hop and electronic elements, Zaidi recorded his new album Acre Of Salt (out June 3rd) at Los Angeles’ famous Sound City studios, where he also worked with backing band members Ethan Gruska, Sebastian Steinberg (Fiona Apple), saxophonist Sam Gendel and Kane Ritchotte (Portugal. The Man). “So much of this album is a study of the quarter-life crisis,” he says. “The mid-20s shift from, ‘Oh it’s not my responsibility to worry about more things than just, I don’t know, who I’ve got a crush on, or what I want to do.’ It’s the awareness of both the problems and the world around you, and the frailty of things.”

Zaidi’s recent single “Jerusalem” (below) is a deeply personal song yet has an immediately relatable quality to it, which isn’t always easy to pull off in the world of songwriting and poetry. While sharing his knowledge, and sometimes lack thereof, of his own rich family history, Zaidi touches on the complex questions and emotions we all feel when it comes to feeling a sense of belonging. Subdued but expressive vocals carry the story over stark instrumentation with the bass as one of the main focal points, creating poignant melodies and exciting harmonic accents throughout.  

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