Sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward. After making his acclaimed debut album, the baroque 2014 release “19 Days in Tetbury,” Peter Aristone dials it down a few notches with his compelling, stripped down EP “Gold.”
The collection of five hook-laden songs takes Aristone back to where he started. Aristone learned to play guitar by picking up an acoustic six-string as a 14-year old in post-Communist Slovakia.
“That’s how it all began for me,” Aristone says. “I’ll never forget picking up that acoustic guitar and how it felt. This is like a journey back home. I’m so comfortable with the acoustic guitar. I love it.”
If it weren’t for venerable producer-songwriter Sacha Skarbek (Miley Cyrus, Adele), perhaps Aristone would be on another sonic path. While watching Aristone deliver cuts solo acoustic from “19 Days in Tetbury” at a European club in 2014, Skarbek suggested he record an album in that manner.
“Sascha saw me at a show when I didn’t even have a microphone,” Aristone recalls. “It was all very raw. He really liked what he heard and he asked if I would ever consider recording acoustic.”
Shortly thereafter Aristone and Skarbek started a working relationship and the latter produced “Gold.”
“This all felt so right,” Aristone says. “With the acoustic in my hand, it felt more emotional when I played. The great thing is that the new songs are not overwhelmed by the other instrumentation. I really like it. What I’m doing with “Gold” is the same thing I did when I was 14. I’m going back to my roots.”
Considering the material, four originals and one cover, it makes sense that the songs are unadorned since the EP is comprised of moving love songs.
“Gold” is a gorgeous, dramatic tune, which features a soaring vocal, which is reminiscent of the Icelandic act Of Monsters and Men.” The title track sounds as if it’s sung from the view of a wild-eyed optimist..
“It’s about the love that connects us all,” Aristone explains. “It’s about passion. That can be the passion for music or whatever you love. It’s a song about how love can save you from everything bad in the world.”
The timing couldn’t be better for “Gold” considering how unstable and unpredictable the world has become.
“Fire Inside” is a snapshot of a character moving on after a nasty breakup. The melodic, rhythmic gem finds the protagonist taking his next step after digesting the fact that it’s time to depart. “Fire Inside” is about fueling the flames inside of you after a serious relationship ends,” Aristone explains. “This song is where I was a month after breaking up with my girlfriend. This song is about the hurt fueling the fire inside. That big fire inside gives us the motivation after our heart has been broken.”
Aristone, who could be the professor of heartbreak after the experience with his last girlfriend, eloquently expresses how to lift yourself off the mat after you’ve been crushed romantically with “Fire Inside.’
And then there is the gentle and gorgeous “Someone Else’s Rule,” which is about letting go of everything in life, which then sets you free.
“What I’ve discovered is that the more you try to be in control of everything, the more you’re losing it,” Aristone states. “You let someone else rule your whole life, which is the wrong thing to do. You can’t let anyone else rule you. I wrote this song with Alfie Jackson (the Holloways), who is an incredibly talented singer-songwriter.”
The poignant “Not As One” captures the sonic moment of a fresh breakup. The heartbreaking ballad is a display of Aristone at the height of his powers as he nails it with this catchy, melancholy cut.
“I wrote “Not As One” the day after the breakup,” Aristone recalls. “The hurt was really fresh. I had to fly to Denmark but I told my manager, that I wasn’t going anywhere. I wrote this song instead. I was just sitting there with the guitar playing chords and it just came to me. It’s a song about desperately loving a girl. You know it’s over but you can’t help yourself. The more you try to get her back, the more you’re losing her.”
“Gold’s coda, a powerful cover of the Crosby, Stills & Nash classic, “Love the One You’re With,” is appropriate. After suffering through repeated heartbreak, Aristone had an epiphany.
“I love the message of the song,” Aristone says. “Just love the one you’re with. It doesn’t have to be about romantic love. It can be brotherly love or the love between a mother and son. The song is the perfect fit for this EP.”
Aristone completely reinvents the folk-rock staple. He transforms it from a mellow, straightforward track into an edgy, raw tune thanks to his powerful strumming and intense, passionate vocal. “Love the One You’re With” sounds more hopeful than ever courtesy of Aristone’s treatment. “I sing it much rockier than the original, “Aristone says. “I decided to go that way after I heard the demo by Stephen Stills.”
His salad days as a metal vocalist inspired the direction he chose. “I used to sing really hard back in those days,” Aristone said. “I thought it would be an interesting way to go with the song. There’s no way I would repeat what was already recorded. Why repeat a cover? I wanted to do something different and make an interesting choice.”
Aristone made some fascinating choices throughout “Gold.” He was wise enough to revisit his early days as a musician.
“It did me a great deal of good going back,” Aristone says. “Now I’m just trying to go forward and do the best that I can.”
Peter Aristone “Gold” Bio – By Ed Condran
As Peter’s music is constantly evolving, the acclaimed cellist player Irena Morisakova became the important part of his sound. She was featured on his latests shows and is heading for the US tour with Marc Broussard as well.