CD Review of Twelve Mondays by Ari Hest
Ari Hest: Twelve Mondays
Recommended if you like
Josh Rouse, Gabe Dixon, Damien Rice
Project 4 Records
Ari Hest: Twelve Mondays

Reviewed by Mike Farley


ri Hest opted out of his Columbia Records deal recently, but made great use of his independence by giving fans something unique at the start of 2008—namely, Hest delivered a new song to those fans each and every Monday through a subscription service on his website, songs that he wrote and recorded and produced himself. Think about that for a minute: 52 songs a year might not sound like much for a professional songwriter, but the writing and recording of those tracks takes a lot of creative energy. Add to that the fact that those songs really need to be thoughtful tracks that rivaled most of the material in Hest’s fast-growing catalog, and you just have to give the New York City-based artist props for being so prolific. So when Hest decided to officially take the best tracks he offered during those 52 weeks and re-record them to make up his new album, his fans probably had the most difficult chore—that is, to trim the 52 songs down to 12.

This album does not have the instant melodic gratification of Hest’s Someone to Tell and The Break-In, but as you let the paint dry on these new creations, there is an inner beauty that shines through lyrically and musically. "One Two" kicks things off with a dark alternative flavor, Hest’s baritone lending itself to a comparison of the late, great Nick Drake. "I’ll Be There" has a jangly, Jellyfish-meets-Jayhawks feel, and from there it’s mostly slow to mid-tempo tracks that show the stripped-down talent of Hest as a songwriter—the best tracks being the haunting "Broken Voices," the singsong "Cranberry Lake," and the anthemic closer, "Reason to Believe," the latter of which might be among this dude’s best yet.

It’s safe to say that if Ari Hest was an artist in the ‘70s, his breezy style, which mirrors other throwback artists like Josh Rouse or Gabe Dixon, would have likely made him a household name. But sadly, artists like this today are almost considered a niche genre with a narrow fanbase. Fair or not, if you’re a fan of Hest or this type of well-written, melodic pop, you can continue to marvel in his awesomeness whether you subscribed to last year’s project or not.

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