Zack duPont
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Zack duPont

Burlington, Vermont, United States

Burlington, Vermont, United States
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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"CD Review"

(Self-released, CD)
After listening to his full-length solo debut, Paths, roughly 47 times in the last week or so, I have a question for Zack duPont: Just where the hell did you come from, man?
Ideally, that question will serve a dual purpose. One, I honestly don’t know much about the dude beyond that he currently lives in Burlington and plays around town fairly often, both solo and with his band Stacked, and that once upon a time he played in Japhy Ryder and Hollywood Farm. When duPont approached me about reviewing his album, he was hesitant to say too much about his background or the project itself, preferring to let his music stand on its own. I can respect that.
The other purpose: I’m hoping said query implies something about my general bewilderment regarding duPont’s freshman effort. At the risk of hyperbole — fair warning: this won’t be the last time — it is an astounding display of musicianship and raw, emotionally gripping songwriting talent. How, oh, how has he flown under my radar to this point?
A swooning, finger-picked acoustic guitar line introduces “Piece of Work” and sets the disc’s moonlit tone. Though every instinct in my critical brain is screaming not to, I have to say this: His playing reminds me of Nick Drake. Simply put, duPont is an elite guitarist. Here and throughout the album, his attention to dynamic subtlety — in addition to immaculate technical polish and engaging melody lines — is remarkable.
Similarly, duPont’s vocal performance is intimate, nuanced and affecting. He appears to take as much care with his hushed delivery as he does with his impressively understated guitar work. The result, evidenced throughout but especially on cuts such as “Brother the Hero” and “Across the Coals,” is that each of his talents works fully in concert with the others. Imagine M. Ward collaborating with Iron and Wine. The word you’re looking for is “sublime.”
The disc has just one flaw and it comes in the form of “The Pilot,” a decidedly jammy cut that simmers on a low groove and closes the album. It’s not a bad tune, per se. In fact, even given my general aversion to all things wiggly, I’d say it’s a tight little tune. But considering the tone of the art-folk brilliance preceding it, the song feels woefully out of place, as if it belongs on another disc — or with another band.
Regardless, Paths is a tantalizing gem from start to (almost) finish. And with it, duPont has firmly established himself as one of the area’s most promising and exciting songwriters.
Zack duPont embarks on a mini-tour of local haunts this week to celebrate the release of Paths. Catch him Friday at The Monkey House, Saturday at Parima’s Acoustic Lounge, Monday at Nectar’s, or Tuesday at the Bee’s Knees in Morrisville.- Dan Bolles - Seven Days


"Top 10 Vermont Recordings of 2009"

MUSIC
Top 10 Vermont Recordings of 2009
Seven Days' music editor picks the best of the year

BY DAN BOLLES [12.29.09]


Wow. 2009 was an incredible year in Vermont-made music. I know, I know. Take a look back at this annual 7D feature from years past and you’ll find the lead sentence always resembles some version of this one. And rightly so — every year is memorable for one reason or another. But more than any other year in recent memory, 2009 was truly special.

2008 was notable for rock reasserting itself as the area’s dominant genre. And to a large degree, that trend continued this year. Releases from Lendway, Villanelles, My Dearest Darling and The Fifth Business solidified the region’s growing reputation as an indie-rock hotspot. Meanwhile, Paper Castles, Bridget Martin, and Whales and Wolves obliged with intriguing additions to Vermont’s growing indie-folk canon.

On the punkier end of the spectrum, ska made a mini comeback with truly rude entries from Husbands AKA and high school upstarts Busted Brix. Psychedelic prog was well represented by a debut from the ever-mysterious Dangerbird. And though he probably deserves a genre unto himself, James Kochalka bolstered his superstar status with, arguably, his most delightfully crazed effort to date, Digital Elf.

As always, Americana and its many-splendored offshoots proved a twangy scene cornerstone, led by Vermont’s favorite sons Starline Rhythm Boys and their instant rockabilly classic, Masquerade for Heartache. The Bluegrass Gospel Project was reborn with PossumHaw’s Colby Crehan at the helm. The Stone Cold Roosters served up a pristine hillbilly gem. Bow Thayer reminded us, yet again, that he is among the state’s finest songwriters. And John Gibbons delivered the down-home album he’s been waiting his whole life to make.

It was an equally vibrant year for jazz, funk and soul. Xander Naylor blew minds and turned heads with Mentally Mobile. Local legends Kilimanjaro proved that age and beauty aren’t mutually exclusive. Newcomers Bearquarium and Strength in Numbers staked equally compelling claims to be Vermont’s funkiest bunch. And Myra Flynn furthered her reputation as a dynamic soul diva.

In what should no longer come as a surprise to anyone, hip-hop is alive and well in the 802, as evidenced by strong efforts from Network, Mertz, The Neighborhood and a solo release from Vermont’s hip-hop ambassador, Nastee. Though he didn’t release a proper album per se, BURNTmd showed up on comp after comp, often alongside some of underground hip-hop’s best and brightest.

Singer-songwriters — is there a less descriptive genre descriptor? — had us crying in our bedrooms with the shades drawn all year round. But in this case, that’s a good thing. Andrew Parker-Renga and Pete Schluter each exhibited tantalizing potential. In Memory of Pluto front man Seth Gallant delivered a midwinter’s masterstroke. Jer Coons proved he might just be the next big thing out of Vermont. And Justin Levinson finally put it all together, serving up his finest work to date and taking his rightful place alongside the state’s most accomplished tunesmiths. Like, for example, Gregory Douglass, who impressed all over again with his seventh album, Battler.

Releases from The Le Duo, Lawrence Welks and Our Bear to Cross, Crinkles, and Tapis Bleu suggest that our thriving experimental music scene is not to be overlooked.

The year also saw a wealth of releases from Vermont expats, including a reinvigorated Avi and Celia and their new outfit, Hey Mama, major-label signees The Urgency, ex-Zola Turn front woman Alice Austin, pop-star-in-training Elle Carpenter, and Bahá’í songwriter Elden Kelly.

Oh, and there was also some record called Joy that garnered a little buzz. I phorget who made it, though … ahem.

Clearly, our collective cup runneth over with stellar releases of every sonic stripe imaginable. In fact, 2009 was so blessed with excellent Vermont albums, choosing 10 to represent the year’s “best” was an unprecedented challenge. I could make a case for at least double that number, and I’m sure many of you could, too.

But choose we must. So what follows are the 10 albums that, for a variety of reasons, particularly stood out to this critic. They represent a sampling of the finest recorded material our music scene had to offer in 2009, a year that will go down as one of the best ever. As always, these selections are presented in no particular order. Thanks for listening.

The Cush, Between the Leaves


Cave Bees, Cave Bees


Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot


Saint Albums, The Machine in the Man


Zach duPont, Paths

In Memory of Pluto, 1994


Michael Chorney & Seth Eames, It Disappears


Nuda Veritas, Songs for Doing Dishes/ Still Lives


Bryan McNamara & Souls’ Calling, All for Love


The Vacant Lots, According to the Gospel
- Seven Days


"Paddy's Blog"


"I passed early on Zack's sound on myspace last week when I stopped by knowing I'd be seeing him open for Chris Trapper at Tin Angel. That's all changed as his voice has flat captured my musical heart. His awe shucks demeanor about the gig and mad guitar skills won us over in no time at all. But that voice! All during his 30 minute set I tried to place just who Zack's voice brought to mind. I asked our tablemates right after who they thought he sounded most like. Paul Simon one said. Hmmn.

Zack was talking with folks near the stage after his set and Pam saw and heard someone else mention to him that he reminded them of Paul Simon. Hmmn. I asked him myself a little later, Zack, who do folks say you sound most like? "Uh, I don't know, some people say Paul Simon" I said, "no way, I don't hear it at all!" Zack offered an emphatic "Thank You!" When I asked him about influences he mentioned the Beatles and how his parents played all kinds of great music around the house growing up and added that his mom was a folk singer.

Spent time online digging a little deeper with Youtubes and the myspace to see if I could put to rest once and for all just who Zack duPont sounds like to me. He's in another band called Stacked and seems to be having fun with the four letter folk label given to artists alone on a stage with an acoustic guitar.

Still can't pin it down but after several more listens and youtubes I'm convinced of just one thing. Zack duPont has the same pure and natural vocal stylings of the likes of Ray LaMontagne, the late great John Martyn, and just a few minutes ago I thought I was listening to early David Crosby.

Zack calls Burlington, Vermont home these days. He didn't have a CD for sale (one's in the mastering stage) at merch and after all the attention afterwards and seeing the line for Chris Trapper merch he looked at family and friends in his midst (he's from Newark, Delaware and had many on hand) and said "I wish I had a CD to sell..."

He will someday, and when he does, I'll want to buy it. Based on one of those 'you had to be there' to hear him WOW the crowd on guitar and vocal and the kind of stage presence that let you know he took this stuff seriously but not terribly so. It's nice to stuble upon raw talent like Zack's ~ especially when you least expect it.

You can hear for yourself here with some myspace tunes. My advice would be to check him out live though where that voice is on display and see if he doesn't just surprise you, too. I especially enjoyed reading his "oh, that's not cool music" blog on myspace about getting out of your comfort zone and getting out to hear live independent music at a venue in your town. Timely and sage advice, indeed.

I really like this guy....." - Patrick Donohue


"CD Review"

"Zack is all about songcraft. With gorgeous vocal harmonies and Appalachian fingerpicking that tips into the realm of high-plains balladry, virtuosity here is a means toward more mature ends." "Stacked is poised to become one of Burlington's freshest, most-sophisticated new sounds amid a small metropolis of talent."

- Josh Potter, Contributing writer to Relix, State of Mind, and Jambase - Josh Potter- Jambase, State of Mind, Relix


Discography

Debut LP, "Paths". 2009
Placed in the top ten of Vermont releases in 2009.

Photos

Bio

The domination of pop culture amongst the masses has created a subterranean, "self sufficient", independent music scene. In this realm, the great songwriters of today dig deep into expression with a purpose. Zack duPont certainly falls into this category in more ways than one. Not only does he write and arrange all of his original songs, he is also a multi-instrumentalist and producer.

In duPont's world, authenticity and truth are the core values that nourish the vulnerability of his song craft. He is not afraid to dwell in the most extreme of emotions, in fact he embraces them as they come. The debut LP is sure to impress as it is geared towards the individual. Zack is raring to tear up the fabrics of the "fast brained", generating a surprisingly pleasant tension that is sure to entice.