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Give It All Away

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Album Review

Ben Jelen means well. He's a pretty, earnest, young singer/songwriter, whose sincerity oozes from every track of his polished debut, Give It All Away. Produced largely by the Berman Brothers, with a couple of cuts helmed by the Matrix and a track by Eve Nelson plus a handful of other producers, the album attempts to turn Jelen into an immediate superstar, a male spin on the sensitive female singer/songwriter who rose up in the wake of teen pop in the early 2000s. He seems tailor-made for the role — he's very good-looking and has a sweet voice, so he's easy to turn into a pinup star for teenagers too old and hip for Clay Aiken, and he has a transparent emotional streak to shame Chris Carrabba. Musically, he's a curious blend of Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and Take That's Gary Barlow, crossed with Coldplay, whose intro for "Clocks" he cops on "Give It All Away." He sounds most comfortable on ballads, since it gives him the best platform for his earnestness, but they're hurt by their lack of tunefulness and po-faced sensibility. Like emo rockers, Jelen's defining characteristic is his emotionalism and sensitivity, and that fuels his music, whether it's on the ballads or the midtempo pop tunes with vague radio-ready dance beats, either provided by the Bermans ("Every Step") or the Matrix, who struggle to rein him in to their signature sound with "Christine" and "Stay," but can't overrule his formless sincerity. At times his earnestness is appealing, and Give It All Away illustrates that he has a likable voice and some solid musical ideas, but the album is brought down by an effort to make Jelen into something bigger than he is — that is, a star. His songs are designed for a small scale and they would sound better unadorned, since the production overwhelms every cut here. Certainly, it's possible to hear his potential underneath that outsized production, but it takes effort. Ironically, instead of making Ben Jelen sound like a star right out of the box, the team of producers and concentration from the label make him seem smaller than life, which does a disservice to his music. He would likely make a bigger splash with a record much more simple and direct than this.

Customer Reviews

Amazing!

I think someone needs to write a real review of this CD and it looks like is gunna be me. I bought this CD about a year and a half ago and I still love it. It never gets old! Unlike most of the artists out there (ugh, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan *gag*) Ben actually has amazing talent and deserves to be recognized not as the hot singing paino-playing heartthrob but as the super talented artist who is going to go so far in his career. Overall, this CD is fairly balanced. The uptempo songs are Come On, Give it all Away, Every Step, Christine, Stay, and possibly Wicked Little Town. So that makes a good balance of 6 uptempo songs to 6 slower songs. Having a good balance of slow and faster songs on a cd is so rare now. It almost always all fast or all slow and boring. So this CD never gets boring. Also, all the songs have their own unique flare. Every song sounds different so with every song you get a new look on Ben. Sometimes it's a violin (played by Ben) or more paino (played by Ben) or guitar (played by Ben) then you have the songs with a little bit of everything, panio, guitar, drums, bass. It's all good! On Ben's vocals: Coming from a classically and broadway trained singer who knows the difference between a good voice and a bad voice, Ben really does have an amazing voice. Not only does he sound great on his cd, he's even better live. That is so hard to come by now. The voices on CD's are almost always computer editted and some artists even feel the need to lip sync *cough*AshleeSimpson*cough* It's so nice to finally have an artist who can actually sing. So, if you're into the rock-popish genre, Ben Jelen is definatly for you. He's the prefect blend of everything a musician should be. muli-talented, varity, musicianship, and good looks (an added plus). With this CD, I can't wait for his next! Actually, his next has already come. His EP Rejected, which includes the songs that didn't make it to this album. Check it out! You won't be dissapointed!

The hidden gem of the album is the song "Stay"

Usually the first single is the song that stands out from the rest of the album, but in this case, it's track number nine, "Stay". With the hook that sings sweetly in your ear, "She's Amazing" followed by a pop melody that's sure to please just about everyone it's hard to believe radio hasn't found it yet. But don't wait for radio, listen for yourself.

Hmm One Hit Wonder For Me

I heard this guys song/saw the video for "come on" a loooong time ago, just searched his name to buy the song, because i love it, hmmm previewed the songs on this album thinking i may like them aswell, i dont. They bore me, but "Come on" is a great single, i strongly recomend buying it!

Biography

Born: July 8, 1979 in Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

New York City-based multi-instrumentalist Ben Jelen writes lush orchestral pop songs that celebrate the breadth and complexity of human emotion. The nomadic tunesmith -- he's lived in England, Scotland, Texas, and New Jersey -- spent his formative years honing his skills on the guitar, violin, and piano, occasionally sitting in with friends' bands. He made a self-produced demo while working as an engineer at a local studio, and was discovered by a Calvin Klein marketing executive at a Jane's Addiction...
Full Bio
Give It All Away, Ben Jelen
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