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By John Norris @jonnynono
“I kind of purposely cut myself off from a lot of my musical references and crutches,” says Beirut’s Zach Condon on this week’s Face Time, as he finally returns this week with a new Beirut album, The Rip Tide, “and that was really good.” It has been too long since we have heard from Condon – the last Beirut release being the early 2009 double-EP March of the Zapotec/ Holland. But as he tells us in a conversation shot on the back porch of his Brooklyn home, he needed to take some time, to live, to get married, to longtime girlfriend Kristianna Smith, and to travel. That his journeys included a trip to Morocco led to some speculation that he would go all Casablanca on us if and when there was another Beirut record, having already musically landed in the Balkans, France, Mexico, and briefly, Brazil. But not so. Just when you thought he was forever a global music magpie, (“my fifty states cross to bear”, he jokes) Condon looked homeward for his most spare and introspective release to date.
Among the “crutches” he removed to create The Rip Tide was the safety net of his adopted home of Brooklyn (and all its distractions), secluding himself for the better part of last fall and winter in a farm house in upstate New York, as he tells us, “just me and the beagle, alone in the woods, up to my neck in snow, writing constantly. Chopping wood in the morning, throwing it in at night, playing piano and recording. Pipes froze. No TV, no internet, just a phone. I didn’t mean for it to be quite so isolated but that’s how it ended up happening.”
You’ll hear about that experience, plus how this turned out to be the most piano-based Beirut album to date, and the most revealing. While he’s hardly gone confessional on us, Condon has opened up. No longer having the luxury of turning to his brother Ryan (who’s now in law school) for lyrical assistance, Condon says he began reflecting on the early days of his still-young career, apparent in songs like “The Rip Tide” and the beautiful, spare “Goshen”. “I feel like we come from a very cynical generation, cynical of itself, cynical of its own successes and failures,” he explains, “and it’s hard to be earnest in any way without feeling pretty raw and exposed about it. So yeah, afterwards it was like, “to hell with it, this is how it’s gonna be.”
A moving record from a still-remarkable talent, and you’ll hear all about it, plus the majestic title track, "The Rip Tide". Get set for music and conversation with Zachary Francis Condon, as Noisevox presents Face Time: Beirut.