Imagine writing, recording, producing and releasing one new song per week for 52 weeks in a row. In 2008, singer-songwriter Ari Hest did just that. On March 10, 2009 Hest self-released the studio CD, “Twelve Mondays”, containing reworked versions of the 12 fan-selected songs from the ’52’ project.
The independence and freedom has served Hest well. I learned of the ambitious project after the fact and heard the songs on “Twelve Mondays” before downloading all the Songs from 52: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Each season contains 13 songs. From the ‘52’; 4 from Winter, 3 from Spring and Autumn and 2 from Summer made the final cut.
The first track on “Twelve Mondays” is also the first track on “Winter.” “One Two” is a deeply textured song that just sticks in your head. The first song of the ‘52’ is one of the best for the whole year. Another stand out is “Dead End Driving”, which was on “Summer”. It’s another catchy song that I keep listening to over and over again. From “Autumn” is “Cranberry Lake” which teams up Hest with Amy Kuney in a simple duet (he attempted to sing Kuney’s part at his Club Café show). “Spring” contributed the fun sounds of “Binoculars” and “Ride the Brake”. Other songs that deserve more than a casual listen include the tongue & cheek "I'll Be There", the rhythmic "The Weight", the layering on "Broken Voices" and the catchy "Morning Streets" along with the final track "Reason to Believe" rounding out the CD, like it starts, with one of those songs that just sticks in your head.
You can’t just comment on the final product of “Twelve Mondays” without acknowledging the pool of ‘52’. I did not hear the songs as they came out each week in 2008; instead I listened to them in order over a 5-day period. I feel there is not a weak song in the bunch. Certainly some songs sounded like demos. Some started abruptly or just ended with no warning. There was one instrumental. Many songs had multiple instruments and sounds. Guitar, piano, percussion and harmonies. You could at least hear the potential of what Hest was attempting to do with a particular song. I was impressed by actually how polished many of the songs were.
The quality and integrity of Ari Hest’s music is evident. In one review, Hest was compared to John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I don’t think those comparisons do justice to the depth of the songs Hest has produced over his young career (Hest will be 30 in June). To me, Ari Hest sounds like … well, Ari Hest. He is unique. Maybe in the future other artists will be likened to … Ari Hest.
On 2006’s “The Green Room Sessions EP”, Hest covers Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies”. It’s hard to believe it’s one person singing that song, but Hest pulls it off brilliantly.
Ari Hest has recorded almost the equivalent of a whole career worth of music in one year. What an incredible accomplishment! Well done, well done! To date, “Twelve Mondays” is my favorite CD of 2009!
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host