Ari Hest Is Riding Under The Radar

     There is something autumnal about the latest batch of songs from Ari Hest. The literate New York-based singer-songwriter will showcase cuts from his latest album, ‘The Fire Plays,’ when he returns Tuesday to the Tin Angel.
     The new collection of pop-rock songs feel seasonal, raw and at times delicate.
        “I just let things come out naturally and this is what happened,” Hest said while calling from Ann Arbor. “I think this album matches my personality more than anything I’ve done in the past. I think I’m kind of a gray person and this album represents that. I wanted to make something that was artistic, fragile and catchy.”
    Hest received a big assist from producer Gerry Leonard, who helped singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik craft similar sounding albums.
       “Gerry helped me get to where I needed to be,” Hest said. “I couldn’t have achieved what I did sonically without him. Gerry is a guitarist and he understands where I needed to go.”
    Hest will be joined at the Tin Angel by pianist Daniel Mintseris and vocalist Rose Cousins, who will open the show. “It’ll be pretty spare live but then again the album is pretty spare too.”
      Expect Hest to draw from his prior five albums, including the underheralded 2011 release, ‘Sunset Over Hope Street.’
      “We’ll play songs from a variety of albums,” Hest said. “We’ll mix it up and see where we can go.”
    Hest is an accomplished songwriter but his vocal ability is what scores him considerable attention.
      “Singing has always been a passion of mine,” Hest said. “I’ve always loved to sing. “I’ve always been a big harmony guy. Harmonies can have a huge effect in a song. That’s how it always was with me. I grew up on the Beach Boys and Beatles harmonies. I don’t understand why harmony has fallen out of fashion. I gravitate toward harmonies since singing is a strong point for me.”
     The Bronx native’s supple voice allows him to explore a number of different genres. He easily jumps from folk to rock to jazz thanks to his set of pipes. ”I like doing that but it’s not common today,” Hest said. “These days recording artists pick a genre and stay within those confines. I can’t do that.”
      When Hest, who is good friends with  San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, is traveling around the country, he can’t help but get caught up in baseball’s hot stove season.
       “I look around and see what all the baseball teams are doing,” Hest said. “I’m curious what the Yankees are going to do since I follow them. When I was growing up it was music and baseball. I’m glad I have a career in one of those fields.”
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