After signing with Columbia Records nearly a year ago, the
Bronx-born Ari Hest is finally giving the public at large a chance
to hear his own brand of acoustic crooning. A graduate of New York
University, he views his career as a psychological purge of all the
troubles he had growing up. With his first major record label
release, Someone to Tell, he walks a fine line between
resonating, haunting tales and fraudulent emo pandering.

The album’s lackluster opening track, “They’re
On To Me,” can be a likened to Hest stepping on his shoelace,
tripping through vagueness and paranoia. “I am walking
through this city / Trying to avoid the sidewalk cracks / Every
step that I’m taking / I fear I’m under attack.”
The electric guitar riffs seem simply out of place, and the
simplistic beats don’t hook. Take your pills, Ari.

However, with the album’s fourth track, “Anne
Marie,” he regains his balance. A light-hearted love ballad
set against the backdrop of dreamy synthesizer fluff, Hest pours
his heart out. “I call to question / this pattern of disease
/ a predilection / of yet another hearts decree.” The
listener feels his love; feels as if he’s got something to
say.

It’s a sad fact that Hest’s material from his
independent release Come Home and his EP Incomplete
has been reworked for this album. “Aberdeen” still
shines as a beacon of longing, yet it’s dimmed by a 25-second
ambient cello intro. “When Everything Seems Wrong”
still serves as a reassuring lullaby, but it becomes muddled in
obnoxious overlays and tires from an overly slow tempo. The old
adage “first time’s the charm” is truly
exemplified in the beauty of Hest’s raw, original material.
This material is marred by the Columbia “studio magic”
and degenerates to filler for Someone to Tell.

In the end, the album’s saving grace is Hest himself.
Though the lyrics may often be uninspired, the melodies a little
parochial, there is a unique characteristic to Hest’s voice.
There’s a special charm in his acoustic creations.
“Consistency” beautifully incorporates harmonics and
taps and it serves as a centerpiece around which the album
revolves. It is a reflection of the one thing holding the record
together: Hest’s undying spirit.

Though Hest may stumble, he walks his line carefully. He wears
his heart on his sleeve and sings as if he might lose it at any
second. Though Hest may get lost, he is mindful of his destination.
One can only guess where his road will lead. Promoting his own
shows for nearly a decade, Hest is a working man’s musician.
Though he still has far to travel, he goes to work on this soulful
album.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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