It starts with a rush. You zoom up toward the blue. For a while you're floating, and then you fall -- not a weightless descent, but a heavy crash and burn. At the end, you're left dazed, surrounded by the wreckage of what once seemed like a pretty promising adventure. Such is love when it doesn't work out. It's happened to us all. A few years ago it happened to Cary Aria. A talented young musician in Minneapolis, he had his life under control until he bought that ticket. Then suddenly he was up there, dizzy with disbelief. He left everything behind, followed his muse out to southern California. They lived near the beach, breathing in bliss like the spray of the sea.
Then, almost too slowly to notice, the season changed. There was no blowup, just a gradual resignation. Each day, once unpredictable, became a variation on the day before and a forecast of what would follow. The magic that drew them to the west slipped imperceptibly away. Eventually Cary packed up and went back home.
But as one story ended, another began. Working mainly on his own, or on occasion with musical colleagues, he wrote and recorded Ruins, a chronicle of this romance. Disarmingly candid and woven into a sequence of accessible tunes, his lyrics achieve an unaffected eloquence, unburdened by bitterness. From the moment of their meeting to a last wistful speculation on what might have been, Ruins rises from our own experiences as much as his, for we've been there too. This is familiar territory. Except for one thing: Few of us have found a way to turn what we've been through into a cycle of songs. Among those who have, fewer still have done so with the objectivity and poetry, wisdom and innocence, that distinguish this mini-saga. And if there's anyone left out there who has, he probably didn't get his ex-girlfriend to contribute to the project. That alone makes Ruins worth investigation.
Alison's not her real name, but everything else on Ruins is true.
Inspired by the example of Prince, he had made himself self-sufficient in the studio, writing his own material, singing lead and overdubbing background vocals, playing all the instruments. His lyrics, sometimes sardonic, always observant, drew more from the example of Elvis Costello. "Well-crafted pop songs moved me," he explains, "especially the words. There were certain songs I heard on the radio that made me feel what the writers were expressing, and I wanted to express myself in a similar way."
He met "Alison" at one of his shows. "We hit it off," he remembers. "We saw each other for a year or so when she suddenly got a job in San Diego and I decided to move out there with her. It seemed like a good idea to start things fresh." Fresh ... as in the air, the sun, and the inviting vibe of their new locale. They found a house blocks from the ocean and began adapting as Minnesota transplants. "I never grasped surfing," he laughs, "but we did a lot of exploring. We covered the West Coast: Santa Barbara, Orange County ... Tijuana." Their travels wound to the East too, as far as Greece, whose images figure prominently in the artwork for Ruins.
Back in San Diego, Cary scribbled out songs like journal entries. After the upbeat early titles -- the sly and sexy "Draw" to the raw and rocking "Sex Hair" -- they began to darken, with doubts about what's left unspoken on "You Can't Hide," apprehensions of failure on "Scared," pain and anger biting through the blues of "Gasoline," and at last a blunt statement "I Want Nothing (to do with you)" Assembled chronologically after Cary's return to Minneapolis, these songs form a concept album, an odyssey of the heart, laced by catchy riffs and sing-along melodies. Put together as Ruins, they take on a single identity, simple yet subtle, personal and universal, easy to hear and impossible to forget.
Today, Cary Aria has picked up where he left off before his two and a half years with "Alison" had begun. "She likes the album," he says. "She actually helped me put it together. I came to her with the idea and she helped me sketch it all out. Communication between us was very open, and it still is. We're still good friends."
And so Ruins is, in the end, an optimist's tale. "I guess I've come around full circle," he admits. "I learned something about myself with every song that I wrote. Maybe people who hear them will relate to them too."
There's no "maybe" about it. Ruins is your story too ... or it will be someday. That's enough to make it as special as a memory and as hopeful as tomorrow ...
Cary Aria is a musician who plays RAW POP MUSIC (pop music with a bit of an edge) in full band format as well as acoustic style. Cary Aria has several albums available and all have done well on collage radio charts. Cary Aria has toured nationally (USA) and has performed in many european cities such as London, Athens Greece, and Paris.