Ari Hest has stage presence. Between his baritone voice, his tall stature (standing at least 6’2” by my estimation) and rugged good looks—dark hair, dark eyes– he instantly captivates audiences at first verse. If he weren’t such a good songwriter he’d just be a pretty boy with a guitar which isn’t a terrible thing but he’d never have the career longevity he’s had. Hest’s music has been featured on numerous television shows including Private Practice, Army Wives, and One Tree Hill. He’s also scored a film called Dreamriders which won several independent film awards.
Brooklyn-based Hest recently released his seventh album The Fire Plays on November 13. He recorded the album in one week in Rhinebeck, New York. It features guest vocalist Valeska Steinter [of the German band Boy] on the track “Couldn’t Have Her” and Tony Levin on bass on “Untitled Part 2.”
I’d not heard Ari Hest before as I spend most time listening to alternative music and less folk music. I appreciate superb song-writing though and that’s what you get with Ari Hest. A friend of Hest’s sends out phrases each week to a group of songwriters as a wonderful prompt and workshop with fellow songwriters. Hest said during a recent performance at Club Passim in Cambridge that sometimes you’ll write one line and that’s it and sometimes you’ll write an entire song. Several songs from this exercise ended up on the album.
On the upbeat “The Winter of Yes,” Hest sings, “I was born cynical and ready to burst . . . now I may not find a reason to smile. . . And my face is so cold that I tear, but I won’t let this be like any old year.”He sings in a dreamy and melancholic manner on Concrete Sky– “Someday, I’m gonna cut through to you, and you won’t put up a fight.” The song “Couldn’t Have Her” showcases the melodious, gently romantic Hest. The exquisite fetching song “Set in Stone” seems a throwback to the 60s. It’s a gorgeous, layered song. The entire album “The Fire Plays” is beautiful. Seeing Ari Hest live is a true treat.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
January 5 — The Barns at Wolf Trap – Vienna, Va.
January 11 — Ginos Place—Danville, Ill.
January 12 — Shedd Theater—Columbus, Ohio
January 18 — The Wildey Theatre –Edwardsville, Ill.
January 19 — Wheeler Arts Building—Indianapolis, Ind.
purchase at Amazon: The Fire Plays