Ariel Posen: Reasons Why Review

Ariel Posen is back with his third album Reasons Why, a project due out September 8 through Soundly Music that shows Posen at his most reflective. The theme isn’t a far stretch from the Posen we’ve come to know since Blues Rock Review named him an Artist to Watch in 2019, not long after he released his debut How Long. But this new album does establish an early lyrical focus on personal relationships and explores the many rewards and sacrifices that come with fighting to keep them.

Posen began writing Reasons Why during the pandemic, which likely played a role in the self-analysis contained within. He wrote 30 songs for the album and ultimately settled on 10, four of which were released last month as part of an EP titled Feel This Way Too.

Those four tracks—“Feel This Way Too,” “Didn’t Say,” “I Wish That We Never Met” and “Man You Raised”—fit well together. The songs move at a relaxed pace as Posen’s lyrics contemplate relationship regrets on “I Wish That We Never Met” and “Didn’t Say.” “Now I’m feeling stuck with all the things I didn’t say / You wouldn’t hear it anyway,” Posen sings on “Didn’t Say.” “Man You Raised” is more upbeat, with its recurring guitar riff established early as Posen sings of acceptance and hope.

Throughout Reasons Why, Posen sings clearly over his guitar even when a song’s message is one of uncertainty or struggle. The album’s musical style is less clear-cut—and that’s the way Posen seems to like it. Instead of leaning too definitively into one or two genres, Posen treats music as “an open canvas” so that it “can be anything and everything,” he said in press materials for the album. If forced to choose, Posen has said he prefers thinking of his work as roots music, featuring a colorful blend of genres and styles with their edges softened.

This is fitting for Reasons Why. There are rock and pop elements on album opener “Time Can Only Tell,” a bit of soul on “Learning How to Say Goodbye” and hints of rock and funk on “So Easy.” The approach is perhaps most exciting on “Broken But I’m Fine.” The four-minute track begins quietly, spotlighting strong vocals from Posen with little distraction for nearly a minute before the drums filter in with what starts as small guitar accents. Posen shines as a guitarist while the song progresses, digging into a mid-track solo that feels like the point at which the album really hits its mark.

In some ways, it’s easy to put Reasons Why on repeat and enjoy Posen’s pleasant genre-blending style. There are moments, though, when the truth behind the lyrics sneaks up on the listener, evoking memories of struggles with loved ones as Posen ponders his own and those he’s observed from afar. “And if I don’t decide / I know that I’ll regret it / But if I do I’m sure that I’ll choose wrong / A choice is just as deadly as not making one,” Posen sings on the album’s penultimate track, “Choose.”

Reasons Why is deeply relatable, a fresh reminder of the questions many people found themselves asking during pandemic-era lockdowns. From “Time Can Only Tell” to album closer “Always Moving On,” the album tells a story of a person assessing and dealing directly with challenges, demonstrating how Posen has pushed himself to explore themes in his writing that can be tough for anyone to face head-on.  

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Time Can Only Tell
– Broken But I’m Fine
– Didn’t Say
– Man You Raised

The Big Hit

– Broken But I’m Fine

Buy the album: Amazon

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