Exclusive Track Premiere: ‘Blue Moth,’ Zachary Cale

Lauded as “NYC’s best songwriter” by The Village Voice last year, Brooklyn-based Zachary Cale softly blends elements of folk, Americana rock, and blues. His grainy, yet comforting voice and poetic lyrics are immediately reminiscent of an early Bob Dylan, while his acoustic strumming draws comparisons to Leonard Cohen and John Fahey. In his most recent track, “Blue Moth,” which is premiering below, Cale sings about someone who dances with death, deciding to return after a glimpse of white light.

“‘Blue Moth’ is based on someone that saw their end, but after a moment of clarity was wise enough to circle back,” he explains. “The end that I’m alluding to isn’t explored fully; I wanted to keep it open. Most of my songs are like that, they never completely spell it out.”

As Cale tells his chosen story through lyrical musings such as “like a moth to the flame,” the track could perhaps be compared to a musical adaptation of Annie Dillard’s short story “The Death of a Moth.” In the story, Dillard witnesses a moth slowly burning to its death, trapped within the confines of melted candlewax. Although Dillard’s moth is crucified, it’s reborn, acting as a wick, allowing the candle to live on. In a similar way, Cale’s helpless moth nears the flame in the first verse, and in the second, a surfer rides a wave to shore, because “at the edge of the void / I call out.” The moth and surfer both live to see another day.

“Blue Moth” will be included on Cale’s fifth studio album, Duskland (August 7), and as Cale says, “Every character in the album can be traced to this song. They’ve all been to that place…beginning with a downward spiral and ending with a resurrection.”

Inspired largely by American myths and folklore, Cale aims to transport listeners to a sparse landscape throughout the duration of the album. “I tried to evoke the spirit of Western films, using sounds that suggest landscape to capture something that’s bigger than the person in the song,” he explains.

To do this, Cale’s guitar is pared down and he lyrically explores human nature and growth, often looking toward other’s experiences, instead of his own, as heard on previous records. “The songs are allegorical by design, so it was necessary for me to project outside of myself to get at the heart of the matter,” he says. “But to say that I’m not in these songs would be untrue; every song I write has me in it somewhere.”