More than a year-and-a-half after he left a lasting impression with his How Long debut solo album, Canadian guitarist and singer-songwriter Ariel Posen is back with a fresh take on his roots-rocking sound.
Ariel tells Q104.3 New York's QN'A that he wanted to kick off the next stage of his career with something unexpected. Despite having been written over two years ago, "Coming Back" is fresh for even Ariel's most-devoted fans.
"...[W]e've never performed this song in front of people," Ariel says. "If you've seen me on tour in the last year-and-a-half — I just wanted something where everyone is getting a new experience.
"It's kinda like when you put out your very first single, when you have no other music out, and no one's heard the music. I wanted that same experience with this song."
Like most working musicians, Ariel has been grounded for the past six months due to COVID-19-related cancellations. But he doesn't lament the lost gigs, and he's not waiting out the lockdown. Ariel considers himself lucky that he's so far been able to pivot to other work — teaching and recording — to keep himself going.
"If it looks like this next year, and if I can continue doing what I'm doing, I think it'll be okay," he says of the pandemic situation. "I can only hope that it'll stay the same or get better."
The new Ariel Posen album came back from mastering this past spring, but the guitarist says he's still a ways away from revealing more details. Until then, listen to "Coming Back" in the video player above. Read our full QN'A below!
How have you been keeping yourself busy since you haven't been able to tour?
Yeah, I haven't played a show since the beginning of March. Haven't played a concert, but I'm fortunate to have a platform where I can stream live a lot. I have a platform where I can offer Skype lessons. I can do a lot of recording from home for other people, for clients, produce, finish up other projects I've been working on. And most importantly finish this new album, which has been done for a while now, but I was working on that a lot during this time as well.
It wasn't just playing gigs that was keeping me going. That's just one of the elements under the umbrella of music for me, so I consider and myself fortunate in that regard, for sure.
Do you think that what you're doing now is sustainable if this drags on into next year?
It's hard to say. I'd like to think so.
I'm not a pessimist, but I'm definitely a little bit skeptical, and my mind, like a lot of people, tends to just veer off the deep end of thinking the worst rather than ... 'I think this'll just be fine.' (Laughs) Like, why would it? I tend to feel like, 'Oh, I don't think this is gonna work out.'
But I think that way when things are good and normal and there isn't a pandemic too. If it looks like this next year, and if I can continue doing what I'm doing, I think it'll be okay. I can only hope that it'll stay the same or get better. And if it gets worse, that's what we have our federal governments for, to help us (laughs). So, yeah.
Is the new album all done?
It's all done. We recorded this new album in December, working all o fDecember, worked in January. I was on tour in January, February, beginning of March. And then the idea was to really just hone in on the mixes, which we did. It's all wrapped, but the album's still not gonna come out for a while.
There are up-tempo songs on How Long, but I was still surprised a bit by the bounce that the new single "Coming Back" has. I don't associate that sound with you so much. How do you look at the song in comparison to your other work?
Well, this song definitely is in the same vein of my previous music. Production-wise, it comes from the same place, you know, in terms of instrumentation, in terms of arrangement. The song itself is a bit less roots-y per se. It's almost like taking a pop song, but masking it in roots music curtains ... the song definitely has a bounce.
It's definitely a jam. I wanted to put out a song that ... something that you could just bob your head to. Medium tempo, but high energy was what I was going for.
I wrote ["Coming Back"] two years ago. Basically, when I finished my last record, when we signed off on masters and everything for How Long, I immediately started writing new music. This is one of those first songs that was written.
It's just a jam!
It sounds fresh for you, for sure.
A lot of the new songs, you'll probably identify as, 'Oh, yeah, this sounds a lot more like what I'm used to [Ariel] sounding like.' But for the first song, I really wanted to come out with something different and, and fresh, like you said, and ideally, you know, get people off guard a little bit.
I assume you've been playing it live for a while, right?
I would say there's about five or six songs on the new record that I've been playing live for the better part of the last year-and-a-half. But for the very first singe, we've never performed this song in front of people.
If you've seen me on tour in the last year-and-a-half, I just wanted something where everyone is getting a new experience.
It's kinda like when you put out your very first single, when you have no other music out, and no one's heard the music. And I wanted that same experience with this song.
Tell me about the lyrical idea for "Coming Back."
Well, it's the idea of someone or something maybe just not being the best thing for you, but you can't help but keep going back to that person or that thing. Hence there's lots of reference in the song to alcohol, to booze and drugs.
Like, 'Jack for breakfast. I wake up drunk, and I hate it, and I feel horrible, but I can't help but keep coming back,' is essentially it.
It's for all those people out there that can't explain why they always fall back to people or things that possibly aren't good for them. There is no explanation. You just can't help it. It's just a feeling you have, and it's just human nature. So it really just focuses on, not why or how, it's just what it is.