Ariel Posen: Live in Vienna, VA

Ariel Posen

With an extensive international fall tour to promote the release of his latest “Reasons Why” album, Winnipeg, MB soul-roots rocker Ariel Posen made a pit stop at Jammin’ Java last week. Welcomed to the stage by an intimate-yet-enthusiastic audience, Posen (guitars/vocals) and bandmates Julian Bradford (bass/vocals) and Jon Smith (drums/vocals) performed a great selection of tunes new and old over the course of just under 90-minutes.

Launching immediately into the “Reasons Why” material, the trio would add a short bonus jam session to close out “Time Can Only Tell,” allowing Posen the opportunity to loosen his hands and flex his guitar skills for the evening ahead. Progressing in to more new material – this album recorded in both Winnipeg and Montreal during early 2022 – the band would deliver the smooth “Man You Raised,” before demonstrating their use of modernistic textures during “Broken But I’m Fine.”

Always content to let his six-string do most of the talking, several songs would play out before Ariel took a moment to fully converse with his audience. “Thanks so much, how’s everybody doing tonight,” he would ask. “We’ve been out on the road here for a minute promoting a new record that’s been out for just over two months now. It just feels good to play some new music, because once you’re sitting on music for a year or two, and the only people that hear it are your pets and your loved ones, and the people you’ve worked on it with, to get to play it for other people on stage is a great feeling.”

Ariel Posen

As the cuts from “Reasons Why” played out, the album themes surrounding forgiveness, pushing toxic people out of your life, and mending broken relationships quickly became apparent – representing both reflection and growth for the artist, some tunes being personal, others observational. There is a clear evolution in Posen’s sound, and as always, the devil is found in the details – from the funky drive that propels the smooth tones of “Wish That We Hadn’t Met,” to the heart-rending sentiments and extended guitar solo offered up during “Learning How To Say Goodbye,” Posen’s new songs are nuanced, but impactful; deeply resonant, but universally accessible.

Following the performance of “Wish That We Hadn’t Met,” Ariel paused to address the room in detail once more. “Well, speaking of somebody that I’m very glad I met a few years back, make some noise for Brittany Kennell for opening up the show,” he commenced, acknowledging his supporting artist. “Brittany has been with us for a couple of months now, [it] has been such a joy to have her. She’s a force to be reckoned with, she kicks ass, is a nice person. We got to work on a bunch of her music earlier this year, and at some point, that’ll come out and it’s some really good stuff, if I do say so myself. Not because of my involvement, but because I was lucky to be a part of it.”

Ariel Posen

A perfectly timed segue, Ariel would invite Brittany to join the trio on stage to perform “Feel This Way Too” as a one-of-a-kind duet – offering some background on the impetus for the song as Brittany worked her way through the crowd to the front of the room. “This song is about going around the world, not in the way of touring, but in real life,” he shared. “Because touring isn’t real life – it is and it isn’t – it’s just a weird Groundhog Day thing that we do. But these last few years I’ve moved around a lot in real life and it made me think about all the things that I never cared about back home. It made me thing about the things I miss that I never thought I’d ever miss, and it just put everything into perspective.”

Posen naturally worked some popular cuts from his back catalogue into the set, introducing the room to “Things That I’ve Said” – a song written about a friend’s divorce – and “How Long,” the title track from his 2019 debut album. Dazzling us with his melodic, atmospheric guitar solo to open this tune, Posen would also give his guitar one final solid workout during “Angeline,” the band’s epic 11-minute finale that allowed a lengthy solo and rousing jam-fest to end. Another fun night at Jammin’ Java – here’s hoping that Ariel Posen gets an invite to return to the DC area again real soon.

Set List:

  1. Time Can Only Tell
  2. Man You Raised
  3. Broken But I’m Fine
  4. Heart By Heart
  5. So Easy
  6. Things That I’ve Said
  7. How Long
  8. I Wish That We Never Met
  9. Learning How To Say Goodbye
  10. Get You Back
  11. Feel This Way Too (ft. Brittany Kennell)
  12. Fade
  13. Be Enough
  14. Angeline

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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