Arielle Silver had a successful music career when she just up and quit 10 years ago.
After years of regional tours, and then a six-month national tour with her trio in support of her third album, she put away her guitar, moved to Los Angeles, and landed a behind-the-scenes job in the music business.
After hours, she studied and taught yoga philosophy, won awards for her literary writing, got divorced, got married and performed at SoCal world music festivals as a background singer and instrumentalist.
But her own music came calling.
“The reason I quit and came back both came from a really deep place inside me,” Silver says. “When I stopped playing. I couldn’t do it anymore. I had done it my whole life. It was the life force for me. It was just something I needed to do and loved to do until I didn’t.”
One day she woke up from a “crazy dream” and it inspired her to do something she never considered.
“It compelled me to go in the backyard and clear a space,” she says. “I didn’t know I was going to build a shed in which to write songs. I just suddenly felt I needed to clean the backyard and get back to something elemental, I guess.”
As soon as she built the shed — six weeks later — she started writing songs again.
“I was feeling my gut instinct,” she says. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
Despite 10 years off, when Silver launched a spring 2019 crowd-funding campaign, she raised over $26,000 to record the just-released indie folk Americana album, “A Thousand Tiny Torches.” The title comes from a lyric on the album.
The songs are about fireflies, wildfires and shining a light into the darkness.
Produced by Shane Alexander, the project was recorded by Michael Gehring at Secret World Studios in the legendary Sound City complex in Los Angeles. It’s being mixed by Grammy winner Brian Yaskulka (Lisa Loeb) and mastered by Grammy winner Hans DeKline (U2). The album features drummer Denny Weston Jr. (KT Tunstall), keyboardist Carl Byron (Rita Coolidge), bassist Darby Orr (Naked to the World), steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg (Lady Gaga, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real), and mandolinist Mike Mullins (David Grisman).
The first single was “What Really Matters,” which hit streaming services on February 28. The song was inspired by the November 2018 shootings at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, and the Woolsey and Hill fires. The events made her think about what really matters most.
“‘What Really Matters’ emerged from my process of challenging myself to write a song a week,” Silver adds.
“All of California looked like it was on fire. A lot of people lost their homes. Thousands were evacuated. The sky was dark and ashy. That week, I wrote two songs. One was ‘What Really Matters.’ We have our personal tragedies in our lives and then there are these cultural tragedies or local tragedies that are public. It’s terrible.”
The first song on the album, “You Were Light,” is luminous and uplifting in its forgiveness after a rocky relationship and accompanied by the reassuring strums of the guitar.
Another album track, “Someone Else’s Dream,” describes the rigorous internal battle between who you are and who you want to be.
Silver’s songs have been licensed internationally for film/TV. She has performed at venues around the country, including Club Passim, 12th and Porter, and Eddie’s Attic, with many of her favorite songwriters, including America, Elizabeth & the Catapult, Kris Delmhorst, St. Vincent, Jay Nash, Rebecca Loebe and Chris Pierce.
Also an essayist and poet, Silver’s literary work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets, and has appeared in Matador Review, Moment, Lilith Magazine, Under The Gum Tree, Brevity and Jet Fuel Review.
Silver says she can’t wait until the COVID-19 crisis is over so she can hit the road again. At 5:30 p.m. Fridays, she hosts live streaming shows
“It’s been a hard year,” she said. “It’s a hard time and it’s a strange time to have something to celebrate. I think, first of all, all of us need a light in the dark.
“We can’t just reside in the despair of global, economic and health crises. All of that said, we need music, art, connection and good food—all of the things that help us feel human together.”