Artist: Ben’s Brother
Title: Battling Giants
Jamie Hartman, AKA Ben’s Brother, follows his 2007 critically acclaimed debut Beta Male Fairytales with Battling Giants.
Opening with the recent radio-friendly single Apologise, it’s not long before I’m feeling a little confused. Jamie left his previous record label EMI to create his own imprint, Flat Cap Records. Anyone brave enough to do this must have a lot of guts and self-belief in their abilities. He certainly has the knack required to pen a good pop song, but it feels like there’s very little here to put Ben’s Brother on the map.
Joss Stone duet Stalemate tugs on the heartstrings without getting too soppy and the inclusion of Stone is a master stroke as the two vocals sound great together. An uplifting moment, Stalemate is sure to be fans favourite.
The song that lends the album its’ title is musically very well crafted and vocal harmonies are a lovely touch on a touching number. Questions and Answers is another one of several potential singles from the album, along with Therapy – which brings back memories of Sixpence None The Richer – and like them the song makes a very good summer afternoon soundtrack.
She Is Love has a few too many James Blunt moments for my liking, this however is balanced out by the rousing chorus of What If I? The piano-led balladry of All Played Out begins with such promise but once the drums have entered it goes back to the same tempo and mood that lingers throughout this album. Not wanting to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs, but a bit of rhythm variation here and there and leaving All Played Out as just a vocal/piano song would give the album a much needed break from the norm and would leave the aforementioned song as an album highlight.
The only real musical standout is Interlude but even that fails to take advantage of the opportunity leaving most of the song lyric-less and only textbook melodies and harmonies making an appearance.
Bitter End and Should I believe You are filed under ‘more of the same’ and just when I thought I’d spoken too soon, album-closer Letters delivers. A beautiful, touching piece of music and without taking itself too seriously, Letters is a wonderful and fine example of how to end an album.
A collection of songs that wouldn’t be too out of place on the Clueless soundtrack (or any other film of that ilk) the history of Ben’s Brothers promises much and offers little beyond predictable pop. Battling Giants showcases Jamie Hartman’s obvious abundance of talent but is lacking substance. More collaborations on album number three could provide a much needed but beneficial influence.
Battling Giants is available from all good record stores and as a digital download.
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