Ari Hest - The Fire Plays

"We tend to fall into the trap of thinking too much about where we expect to be in our lives instead of embracing where we are," says New York songwriter Ari Hest. "I am a black belt in such thinking." That double sided psychological challenge is summed up in the lyrics "I play with fire/and the fire plays with me" from the title track off Hest's fine new The Fire Plays (November 13). It is also, not surprisingly, the most personal of his seven albums. Produced by Gerry Leonard, The Fire Plays has Hest's husky vocals and distinctive way with a flawless melody on prime display coupled with introspective lyrics that have been described as a "journey of self-exploration." "We focused on how they were going to both musically and lyrically connect," reflects Ari. "I wanted people to hear it and feel like they opened a window into someone's thought process." Hest's desire to mentally "keep it simple" spills over into his songwriting, too, as he succinctly lays out one beautifully focused song after another. Our picks: the piano-centric title track along with "Know Where", a haunting song that slowly builds to a powerful chorus.

Ari Hest - "The Fire Plays" (from The Fire Plays)

Ari Hest - "Knows Where" (from The Fire Plays)