As a songwriter and producer, Aaron Fink tends to use a variety of sounds and textures to express his original brand of rock ‘n’ roll, and his latest album is no exception.
“Wolves & Butterflies,” the fourth solo album by the former Breaking Benjamin guitarist, is due to be released on April 13, and the fitting follow-up to 2017’s “Galaxies” continues to prove that Fink has many tools at his disposal to serve the songs he creates.
Fink will perform during an album release show that will take place on May 18 at Karl Hall in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Distinctly a rock record — the album is book-ended by impactful, driving rock ‘n’ roll songs in “Sweet Tooth” and “Love Bombs” — “Wolves & Butterflies” has brushes with reggae, funk and soul and features instrumental sounds from across the globe.
“I have all the creative freedom in the world now. There’s a beauty to that, but there’s probably a danger too. Maybe I’m a little too far off the leash,” Fink said with a laugh.
The diversity that seems to have become a hallmark of his records comes naturally, according to Fink.
“One day I’ll be playing a funky riff on the guitar, and I’ll think, ‘Man, I like that riff; let’s see how that goes,” he said. “Another day, I’ll be on the couch with an acoustic guitar, and I’ll play some soft, jangly, singer-songwriter stuff. I kind of go where the wind takes me, and I try to make it fit somewhat with my voice.”
Finding a soundscape that works well with his vocal range was something Fink was enthusiastic about after the release of “Galaxies,” and that maturation of style has spilled into “Wolves & Butterflies,” a truly diverse group of songs that also has a solid sense of cohesion.
“Vocally, I have a lot of boundaries, so that will kill ideas. On the guitar, I kind of can play anything I’d like to play,” Fink said. “Lately, I’ve been filling in other gaps where I play all the instruments on a song. I like (records) where it’s not all the same.”
The worldliness of his latest album hits the listener after one turn through the volume. “Good Man Down” features mandolin work reminiscent of Western European folk music, and both the title track and “High Plains Drifter” feature sitar, an instrument native to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“When I was in college, I was studying jazz guitar,” Fink said. “If you saw my CD collection at the time, it wouldn’t be what you would think. It was a lot of jazz and world music.
“Then the late ’90s happened with Korn and Limp Bizkit and all that stuff, and everything got hard and alternative; and I started playing in bands that were doing that. It changed my focus. Now that I’m doing my own thing, my love of world music is creeping back in. I’m trying to blend it into my rock.”
Fink cites artists like Peter Gabriel and Sting, who are more pop-oriented than he is in their application of worldly sounds, as influences.
“Golden Days,” a song that strikes the listener as one of the record’s lighter tunes — although, it does take a dark, slightly psychedelic turn during the bridge — stands out to Fink as one of the album’s strongest songs.
“It was easy to write,” he said. “For songwriters out there, they can attest that the ones that come easily are usually the best. It’s simple; it’s fun to play and sing. There’s hopefulness to it that I like. It’s one of my brighter, happier tunes.
“Some of my stuff gets dark and moody. I was going for a little bit of a gospelly sound on this one. To my ears, it sounds like Pink Floyd made a gospelly type of song. It’s straight forward with a jam session. And I think the lyrics are very relatable.”
While the verses in “Golden Days” communicate in a universal sense, “Melody Lane” finds Fink at his most overtly personal.
“I grew up on the street Melody Lane. I always thought that was fitting,” Fink said. “I’m 40 years old now, so I’ve had a lot of life experience. I feel like I aged 20 years in my 20s. I thought it’d be interesting to try to squeeze 40 years into three-and-a-half minutes and graze over a couple of moments as a songwriting challenge.
“It took me an hour to write that song. I had to tweak a couple words, but they just came out. I open up about me being a father, which I have a hard time doing publicly. I like to keep my private life private.”
And as the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist prepares to share a little more of himself with fans of his music, he’s also poised to share a lot more of his artistry.
“I’m writing so many … songs, I don’t know what to do with them,” he said. “They’re stacking up, and I’m putting them out. I’ve been writing stuff in a bubble. I don’t have a panel of judges saying, ‘This is good’ or ‘This isn’t,’ so I’m going with my own artistic barometer. Is this cool? …
“I understand not everybody is going to like what I put out, and I’m OK with that.”