Ben Jelen Gives it all for beauty

Feb. 25, 2004, midnight | By Erica Hartmann | 20 years ago

Ben Jelen's debut album, Give it all away (Maverick), conforms to all the basic rules of fashion, namely it has beautiful form but no function.

Jelen's music incorporates subtle Celtic elements with diva pop style singing and lyrics. The end effect is comparable to boy band songs but a little classier, because Jelen writes his own music.

What is most remarkable about his work is its clarity. His songs, especially "Rocks," are melodic and clean. When they rise to crescendo, the volume never drowns out the quality. The harmonies he produces, mixing strings, piano and drums, are astonishingly beautiful.

Jelen's lyrics, his website claims, "explore the burn of passion, the nostalgia that remains when the fire cools, and the bittersweet emotions at each end of the spectrum." Yeah, right, whatever. On this album, they're secondary to the music itself.

Aesthetically, the music mirrors its creator, who encroaches on Dorian Gray and is delicately feminine. One might be enticed to buy the album just for the cover, an artistic rendition of Jelen.

If vanilla sounds and beauty were all there is to music, Ben Jelen's album Give it all away would be the best thing around. Look for it in stores in March.

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