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The Break-In (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Although radio-friendly singer/songwriter Ari Hest's music (the rhythm, the chords) isn't always particularly distinguishable from similarly emotionally accessible artists — Matt Nathanson, Josh Kelley, Jason Mraz — the Bronx native has an important advantage over his peers: he possesses a better-than-average voice, something that can't be faked by ProTools, and something that he accentuates on his second full-length, The Break-In. It seems to have developed tremendously since his first record, Someone to Tell, came out in 2004, and the results are impressive. His range, for example, has expanded, or is at least displayed more prominently here: he moves from the low, sonorous notes on tracks like the opener "When and If" to a convincing falsetto on the title track without ever sounding strained or unnatural. It's a resonant, affecting tenor that blends well not only with itself but also with Hest's acoustic guitar and Mitchell Froom's clean production, and doesn't need to be forced into sounding emotional and honest. And songwise, although Hest sticks to simple, standard progressions and melodies, the way the electric guitar, keyboards, and percussion enter and exit, his allusions to Beach Boys-esque harmonies, the occasional times he slips in an unexpected note, even the crooner-ish jazzy track, "I've Got You," make The Break-In better than your typical sentimental-male pop album. The songs are hooky, of course, but not overly so, and they don't depend on catchiness to carry them. The edgier "Right of Way" plays on lightly distorted electric guitars and driving vocal lines, while "Leaving Her Alone" is gentle and softer and contains one of Hest's best phrases ("Here, here is an empty room/Filled with an empty man"). In fact, it's the lyrics that are the only thing on the album that really fall short, especially in comparison to what he shows he can accomplish in other fields. The rhymes are uncomplicated and sometimes cliché, or at least very ordinary, which contrasts with Hest's strong voice, and keeps The Break-In from reaching past the boundaries of adult alternative and into actual poetic singer/songwriter territory. Still, it's a leap forward for Hest, and promises much more to come.

Customer Reviews

Break Out!

Ari Hest delivers and more. He is a must see. His energy and love for his music is contagious.

The Break-In

I highly disagree with this review with regard to Ari's lyrics being weak. One of the things I appreciate about Ari's music are his intelligent, articulate lyrics. Keep listening.

This Is His Best Stuff ! ! ! !

I've been listening to Ari Hest for about 7-8 years, before his first album was released even. I love all of his music, and this album is right up on top! This music is worthy of a Grammy Award in my opinion ( I guess tats the correct award, I don't watch the shows) . The thing that is most impressive about Ari, other than the awesome music, is that he sounds exactly the same live as he does on CD. That cant be said for many artist these days!


Born: June 16, 1979 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Ari Hest became interested in music while still a teenager growing up in the Bronx. Though he'd taken piano lessons as a child, he taught himself how to play the guitar, mostly by listening to records from his parents' collection (Paul Simon) and alternative radio (Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews). While studying at NYU, Hest hit the East Coast college circuit, performing a mix of covers and his own material. The exposure built him a respectable regional following, which he nurtured with self-released albums...
Full Bio
The Break-In (Bonus Track Version), Ari Hest
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Customer Ratings