Chicago’s File 13 Records has recently released ‘Zebulon’, the compelling yet irresistibly catchy new single from solo artist Jon Lindsay. Worldwide released on December 22, this track features a ridiculously funky horn arrangement from Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats and drums by John Howie Junior of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers.
‘Zebulon’ also happens to artfully tackle systemic bigotry—from the bigot’s point of view, no less. A sonic departure from Lindsay’s 2016 modern pop/rock opus ‘Cities and Schools’ (via File 13 Records), Lindsay describes the “Zebulon” sound as “sort of this psychedelic gospel pop”. While the vibe is indeed reminiscent of late-era George Harrison and Warren Zevon, and the horns, keys, congas and infectious hooks are in step with pop masters of the 1980s like Steve Winwood, something entirely new is happening here.
Lindsay (self-described as “way, way left”) wrote the song based on a true story. One night last summer, he accidentally wound up in rural North Carolina, playing music on a farm at the going away party for a farmer’s daughter, who was heading off to a northern college in the fall. Lindsay knew very little about the situation heading into the evening, but there was a lot of narrow-minded language and odd ideas voiced that night, much of it by the farmer himself. Some of this is echoed in the song.
“I didn’t want to just skewer a guy like this with some preachy, easy tune,” explains Jon Lindsay, “I wanted to put a more three-dimensional character sketch together that got at the undercurrents of why this person felt like his whole world was getting away from him. Maybe it would help me understand how these things happen? I just tried to imagine how somebody could turn out so hateful and seemingly not realize it even a little bit.”
Paste Magazine probably nailed it best, referring to “Lindsay’s trademark, almost paradoxical combination of energy and melancholy” while praising ‘Cities and Schools’ as “one of the gems of 2016”. Sync licensing also found this music featured in TV shows like “Haven” and “Jane by Design” and national broadcast campaigns for Jeep, Sheetz and other brands. In 2013, he cofounded (with Caitlin Cary of Whiskeytown) the NC Music Love Army—a large collective of progressive artists creating ‘protest music’. Apart from writing these songs, he served as producer and music director. The Love Army’s roster included Chris Stamey, Hiss Golden Messenger, American Aquarium, Chatham County Line, The Love Language, as well as members of the Black Crowes, The Mountain Goats, and Carolina Chocolate Drops. In all, they put out 13 politically-charged original releases on their own label. In 2017, the Love Army’s song ‘We Rise’ was licensed for the film ‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’, for which Martin Scorsese was the executive producer.
‘Zebulon’ is released via all the standard online stores and streaming platforms, and also can be ordered via Jon Lindsay’s Bandcamp. His 2018 plans are also rounding out with a tour schedule that kicks off February 10 at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC and an expected album release later in 2018.