Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Ari Hest has seemingly been on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough for the past several years. After working his way through the college coffeehouse circuit, Hest made his major label debut with Someone To Tell on Columbia Records in 2004. While Someone To Tell was a strong effort, something seemed to be lacking as Hest made the transition from the indie world to the musical big leagues. My own personal complaint with Someone To Tell was that the production seemed almost too slick for someone who made his name with simple, earnest acoustic songs. The good news for Hest fans is that The Break-In finds the artist turning down the extra noise and going back to what works best.
Hest is in possession of one of the most rich and supple voices to be found today. The Break-In takes immediate advantage of this fact. The album’s opening track, “When and If”, is testament to simplicity that needs little more than Hest’s voice and guitar to carry it. The highlight of The Break-In comes in the form of the second track, “Bird”, which was co-written with Gary Louris of The Jayhawks. “Bird”’s opening contains some of the prettiest and most delicate guitar work a music fan could hope to hear this year. While “Bird” is a stunning song, there are no slouches amongst the remaining tracks. “Way to Quit” has a slow, slinky 70s groove that would be worthy of Michael McDonald. “Right of Way” is as close to a radio-ready rocker as Hest has ever written and has the potential to add to his audience in a major way if it manages to find proper support. The album’s title track gives Hest a chance to demonstrate his vocal range as he shows off a falsetto that gives the track a haunting feel to it.
If there is a complaint to be had with The Break-In, it is that the songs have a habit of blending into one another at times. The album rarely breaks its mid-tempo groove and only scarcely ventures into the realm of rock. The Break-In is not an album that you will find yourself playing at a party. However, it is the perfect soundtrack for a rainy afternoon. The simple production and gorgeous melodies lead to a perfect match for a Sunday downpour.Powered by Sidelines