From Paste #12 (Oct. 2004)
Ari Hest - Someone To Tell
It’s hard to lift yourself off the mountainous heap of singer/songwriters, even if you’re Ari Hest—blessed with an appealingly husky baritone, a major-label slot and, not incidentally, a beetle-browed, cherub-lipped face. This former touring partner of Guster and Jason Mraz sounds a whole lot like those guys, with straightforward folk rock interspersed with mildly swaggering rhythmic material. The latter comes via a song called “Consistency”—which is not Hest’s problem; if anything, he should aim for less of it. Amidst the pretty love ballads (“Anne Marie”), songs about ditching this town (“Aberdeen”) and other teenage fare is an alluringly melancholy co-write with Marvin Etzioni, “Strangers Again.” “I want yesterday to come back again,” Hest begs. “Nothing is as simple as I once knew …before the day that I lost you.” It sounds like a big loss, too, as the unexpected, pensive chord progression steps out of pop-song accessibility into something mystical. If Hest wants to rise above the crowd next time, he needs more of this stuff and less of the coffeehouse-lothario cuteness of “Fascinate You.” We’ve got enough Dave Matthews clones out there; a few more Van Morrisons wouldn’t be so bad.