After a number of critically acclaimed releases which earned him a fanbase in the US, UK and Canada, Ari Shine was ready to make his first truly definitive album. “I had a batch of songs that I had been amassing over the past few years of touring and writing. Overall, they felt more personal and from the gut than my other records.” While sources like the Village Voice, Classic Rock UK, LA Times and even legendary Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham praised his deft worldplay and way with a hook, Ari knew he was on the verge of something different. Enter producer Noah Shain, fresh off work with acts like As Tall As Lions, Me Talk Pretty and The Secret Handshake. Good friends and collaborators over the years, Shine had always wanted to make a record with the producer. He says, “Noah is able to push me vocally and as a player in a way that no one else can. I worked with brilliant producers on my last records but Noah is a whole other animal. His focus and intensity in the studio just suck you into the process.”
The 10 songs on Ghost Town Directory (Beverly Martel) cover a broad range of styles and feature a wide screen sound which give Shine’s already anthemic tunes a radio ready sheen. Gutsy rockers like the opening “All I’ve Got is Love” and the hometown kiss off “Against the Night” mingle with more atmospheric tracks like “Here With Me” and “Simple”, the latter featuring rich pads of harmonies in a decidedly 70s vein. The albums rootsier aesthetics can be traced back to the fact that all the songs were initially written on acoustic guitar. A deeper listen also reveals a grittier tone to Shine’s voice throughout the record. He reckons it’s the result of hundreds of solo shows performed over the past few years in addition to his usual barnstorming full band sets. “I realIy feel like I got to sink my teeth into these tunes. The guitar tones are dirtier, there’s lots of slide and a punchy in your face kind of sound. I’m also more comfortable with these songs lyrically and where my voice is sitting in them.” Though he tackled all the instruments and vocals during the sessions, drums were handled by LA traps master Chris Cano, best known for his work in another Shain produced project Orson, as well as hip hop/Latin rock road warriors Ozomatli.
Shine has racked up plenty of miles himself, opening for artists like Rhett Miller, John Doe, Hugh Cornwell of the Stranglers, Redd Kross, Silversun Pickups, the Donnas, Liam Finn and many others. Summer 2010 saw Ari handpicked to support Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters on his entire US/Canadian tour. Somewhere between the knowing nods to the past of an act like the Racontouers and the heartfelt honesty of Tom Petty’s early records, Ghost Town Directory (Beverly Martel) is Ari Shine’s most confident and nuanced work yet.