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Ben Jelen – Give It All Away

Ben Jelen (pronounced, quite brilliantly, Yellin) is another young male singer-songwriter gaining gradual success in the USA. Ben has actually lived in England and Scotland as well as America and his family now live in Lincolnshire, UK – not too exotic! Ben entered the music business as a record producer but his talent as a musician soon got him noticed and he signed a deal with Madonna’s label, Maverick, home to Alanis Morrisette and Michelle Branch. His debut single Come On has him touted as the next big thing and the album, released in March this year, has earned him plenty of critical acclaim. So let’s see what he’s got to offer! (If you can tear your eyes away from the pretty cover, that is)

Click here for clips.

1. Come On

A rousing piano ballad with a chorus littered with catchy “Come o-o-o-o-on”s and a good indicator of what’s to come. This song shows off Ben’s voice well. The video is great too, look out for it.

2. Rocks

This was one of the first album tracks I heard and it’s still one of my favourites. It’s an emotional mid-tempo song with many lovely bits, such as “I came without an invitation, just wanted to be in loooove!” at the end of the chorus and a great bridge where he sings “I’ve been doooown!” before launching full-throttle into the chorus. There’s so many great parts of this song. It lives up to it’s name.

3. She’ll Hear You

A very pretty song but one of the less exciting tracks. The backing music is very nice and the song gets better as it goes along. The layered vocals near the end sound lovely.

4. Setting Of The Sun

This starts very nicely with various instuments I don’t know the name of, taking a while for the singing to start. The music plays a big part in this song, as with most of Ben’s, probably due to his producing background. There’s a nice folky bit at the end, sounds like bagpipes. That must be the Scottish influence!

5. Every Step

I love the lyrics to this one, such as, “I know you, I tangled with your lips, since you the sun has gone into the eclipse”. Ben sings about his love for someone that no-one else can understand and wanting to run away with her to “build a paradise”. There’s some nice “ohohoh”s too.

6. Christine

This one’s a bit faster and less lovey-dovey which is good at this point. Christine is torn between Ben and her boyfriend and Ben is desperate for her to choose him, but she loves the whole world and the whole world loves her. The song has a great melody, a bit poppier. Very good.

7. Wicked Little Town

I sort of wish I didn’t know the original (by Stephen Trask, as heard on the Hedwig soundtrack) because Ben hasn’t changed it much and I might enjoy his version more that way. Still, this is a fairly good interpretation of a good song.

8. Falling Down

This is my favourite of the slower tracks on the album. It is very slow indeed, but has something very lovely about it. For the most part it’s just the piano and Ben and the result is a sweet, gentle love song, longing for a girl called Isabel to return to him but wondering if it would be unkind to her as he has been going through bad times. There’s a lovely, quietly sung bit at the end about gypsy dresses and heading into oblivion. This is the longest track at 5:20 but I enjoy every second.

9. Stay

Lots of nice “ooooh”s in this one, again about a girl and her loveliness. This time he’s asking her to stay, as the title says. There’s a good bit where he rhymes feeling and begging and makes it sound like they actually do rhyme, but even this does not top the end of the song which mostly consists of Ben yelling..I mean, jelen!…”I’ll pick you up girl” again and again.

10. Criminal

This doesn’t seem to be about a girl for once. Instead Ben is wondering if he is criminal to ignore bad things. He sings, “the children will ask me, how did you ignore?” and “is it ignorance or innocence?”. The song is very slow and doesn’t have much in the way of a chorus, but it’s quite nice in a sad and thoughtful way.

11. Slow Down

More piano and long high-pitched notes. This song is so slow in the middle that it actually seems to stop at one point. Not very exciting but not bad either and follows on from Criminal with the line, “I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence”.

12. Give It All Away

The last track on the album, a lot tougher sounding than the previous few songs although just as long. It slows down about a third through, but still talks about demons (contrasted later with talk of angels) so not too slushy! It is quite clever how he goes so quickly from sounding bitter and fed-up, then back to his usual gentle, loving tones.

So, a conclusion…some of the tracks are a bit boring but that is made up by the pure loveliness and aceness of the others. Plus, he is English (Well I’m claiming him) and a total buff hottie with a fab name. What’s not to like!

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