After spending much of the recent past hauled up in a deep studio hibernation, Manuel Gagneux, the creative force majeure behind Zeal & Ardor has emerged, holding high the brand new single Gravedigger’s Chant. The track marks a noticeable departure from the debut under the moniker, while also ushering in the eagerly awaited follow up, dubbed Strange Fruit.

A man of many musical penchants, Gagneux refuses to sit still long enough to be put into a box. As we see in Gravediggers Chant, the Renaissance man layers blues on top of gospel and in between soul, peppered with rock throughout. Gravedigger’s Chant, and indeed it’s brothers and sisters on the record bear a distinctly harsher song bed, as though these things were dragged straight through the emotional swamp that inspired them before being thrown over a clothes line and left to bake in the tumultuous high-noon sun.

While keeping his cards close to his chest, Gagneux has revealed that the tracks contained within Strange Fruit are designed to play off each other both lyrically and musically, creating a tense, but immersive listening experience. Though dripping in melancholy, Gagneux doesn’t want to drag you down, but give you an opportunity to reflect, as it were, to inspire movement; a resistance; a rising middle finger to hopelessness.

Speaking of the new track, Gagneux adds, “Our intent is both to familiarise as well as alienate. The video for Gravedigger’s Chant subverts roles: People find themselves in situations untypical for their ilk, tools become weapons, weapons turn into tools, and fingers meant for sensing make themselves felt.”

Beginning as a one-man effort, Zeal & Ardor has expanded since its inception. Soon after the release of debut album Devil Is Fine, the project became a fully-fledged band, attracting critical acclaim along the way. Since then, Zeal & Ardor has zigged zagged highways across the globe in an effort to sooth the rising demand.

Strange Fruit will be available Friday, 8th June.