CD Review of Someone To Tell by Ari Hest

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Someone To Tell
starstarstarstarno star Label: Red Int / Red Ink
Released: 2004
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There comes a time in every music-loving person’s life when they have to put the quirky Jason Mraz types back on the shelf and get back to honest, straight-ahead songwriting. Those folks should now turn to Ari Hest, who has just released his major label debut, Someone to Tell. Not only does Hest combine percussive guitar, peanut butter-on-the-roof-of-your-head melodies, and balanced arrangements, but he also has a rich, powerful voice that gives the overall package a nice rock edge.

“They’re on to Me” is a jangly rocker to kick this record off and should land on radio just as easily as the song itself flows. “A Fond Farewell” is a powerful piece about getting out from under your own self-doubts: “Beneath the shelter of the pouring rain/In the absence of this fear and pain/I will finally bid this ball and chain/A fond farewell.” At over five minutes, “Aberdeen” might not be tailored for radio, but for my money it is the best track on here, enhanced nicely by producer David Rolfe’s intricate guitar parts.

Songs like “Holding On” and “Fascinate You” are more straight-ahead pop/rock, and Hest shows a more tender side on “Anne Marie” and “Strangers Again.” But he really shines on the funkier “Consistency” and “Not for Long,” which also show off his mad guitar skills. Finally, the bluesy title track is the perfect ending to this fine debut, and would be right at home as the trailer to a movie.

When labels like Columbia are signing talented singer/songwriters like Ari Hest, it proves that, at least to some degree, they know what they’re doing. While Hest has been out pounding the pavement for five years to build up his following and hone his chops, he’s given the label a product to market that shouldn’t miss. Someone to Tell is mostly solid, and at times bordering on brilliant.

~Mike Farley