Sunday 20 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Hest goes west

Hest goes west

Guitar in hand, New York singer/songwriter Ari Hest blows in to Performing Arts Studios’ Winter Wind concert series in Norman.

Charles Martin November 16th, 2011

Ari Hest
7 p.m. Sunday
Performing Arts Studio
200 S. Jones, Norman

It’s hardly shocking why major labels gravitate toward fresh, young artists: It’s easier to work with a blank canvas. The wider their eyes, the easier to shape.

In Ari Hest’s case, that meant another in a string of adult-pop crooners from Dave Matthews to John Mayer.

Columbia Records released Hest’s third full-length album, “Someone to Tell,” in 2004, as he was embracing the guitar, and becoming enamored of Matthews.

“I was intrigued by the way he played guitar and his voice,” Hest said. “I thought he had a uniqueness that I hadn’t heard in many other people. Early in my career, you could tell that I was very influenced by him in the way that I played and that I sang. I hadn’t quite figured out my own thing yet.”

The New York native sold in the neighborhood of 20,000 CDs of his debut EP and first two albums. His hard work paid off in major-label attention, but the relationship soured. Columbia wanted Hest to keep imitating Matthews; he wanted to move on.

“They wanted me basically to be like John Mayer as much as I could, and I was never really interested in that,” he said. “It was a good time for me creatively, because I started to listen to things and appreciating songwriting in a way I hadn’t before. My music changed while I was with them for the better, though not for the better for them.”

He celebrated his departure by recording and releasing a gargantuan amount of music in the form of 2008’s “52 Project.” Every Monday for an entire year, Hest posted a new song on his website. In 2009, he polled fans on their dozen favorites, then reworked and re-recorded them, releasing the effort as “Twelve Mondays.”

With this year’s “Sunset Over Hope Street,” he continues to stretch his craft; the album’s lush warmth stands as Hest’s most sophisticated sound to date. To switch things up, Hest took many of the songs he composed on guitar and transposed them to piano.

The experience was such a revelation that at least half the songs for the forthcoming album were written on piano. Hest’s also planning on revisiting string arrangements because he so loves the sound. But one thing will remain the same: He continues to pen peculiarly personal music, because that’s the only way he knows how to do it.

“It’s very hard for me to write things that don’t involve me in any way,” he said. “There’s no way to get yourself completely out of it. At least the way that I write.”

Photo by Deborah Lopez

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