Through the Universe: Ben Jaimen takes us on an E-ticket ride. By Patrick O’Heffernan

Posted: October 10, 2014 in Concerts, Entertainment, Interview, music, Music Friday Live, Patrick O'Heffernan, Pop, Review, rock
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Los Angeles. Ben Jaimen is very, very good  and his US debut EP, Through the Universe, demonstrates that in spades. A native of Germany with family in Israel and Argentina, Jaimen moves easily among those and other countries, picking up musical influences while retaining a certain humble cosmopolitan air. Music training in Israel and London, summers teaching to disabled barrio children in Cordoba, recording in Germany and LA, he has seen and given a lot. He has sung to a million people at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, written and recorded hundreds of songs, and played gigs from Berlin to Tel Aviv.

A pop rocker who writes and performs with the precision of a seasoned professional, he  knows how to hold a crowd  or  lay down  popular tracks. Most important, he is also determined  to live and sing with integrity and to be his own man. With  Through the Universe he is very much his  own man; he has produced a musical E-ticket ride and trust me, you will love every twist and bump.

Ben Jaimen,  Sylvester 2011

The Ep launches with “Satellites”,  a dance-paced, sophisticated earworm carefully constructed to engage the listener at a visceral as well as a lyrical level. With whirling keyboard notes, racing but modulated drums, perfectly integrated bass and caffeinated guitar riffs, it gets under your skin and into your muscles.  You can feel yourself twirling with the lovers,  leaving this crazy world behind and spinning through this universe tonight.  But  even in a pop dance number, Jaimen and the song’s co-writer Davy Nathan slip in a message, “We won’t  let this world define us”.  And it doesn’t ,  we realize that as we sing oh-ohohoh with him.

The pace downshifts a bit and the message gets more explicit in “Not A Man For Sale”.  Musically reminiscent of Michael Jackson, Jaimen makes it clear who he is in this song, clearly meant to introduce him to the LA and US music industry.  Carefully constructed complex rhythms showcase his superb songwriting chops and command of global musical styles.  Jaimen uses African xylophones, clap drums, bass and guitars to weave an addictive musical message, driven home with an emphatic chorus that stays with you.

As we settle into his very good but recognizable pop rock groove, he goes off the grid and takes us into another musical universe with “Tokyo”.  A 51-second intro in the form of a urgent conversation in Japanese tells us that we aren’t in pop rock Kansas anymore. The lyrics (and the title) tell us that we are in Tokyo and it is a city of dreams and dangers, “There are shadows running on the streets/Everywhere I go they follow me/Am I dreaming or am I awake/Locked up in a place  I can’t escape.  The lyrical dream/nightmare is moved along by an burning, almost painful swirling keyboard that sets the beat,  punctuated with a muted snare and distant clap drum, like we are in a bright, cold overwhelming city with unseen forces bearing down us.  And, as ever in Jaimen songs, the ethical line slips in: I  see the man with the evil eyes/Telling me that he can make me fly/High and high, to the sky/To come around, the price is too high.


We deserve a break after “Tokyo” and Jaimen gives it to us with “Die For You”, and easy pop story of love with mostly predictable rises and hooks.  It moves us in a dance-energy beat with a piano giving direction and drums and keyboards filling in while Jaimen’s flexible and , in this case, highly-pitch voice lets us know he would die for the girl in the small town he is skipping through. No drama, no memos, no mysteries – but a very clear message: I can do radio-ready pop with the best of them.

But being Jaimen, he can’t stay there for long, he takes us back  into darker territory with “The Devil With Dice”, a witchy woman song that evokes pop jazz more than pop rock.  Propelled by a simple snare drum rim-hit beat supported by kick  drum and bass over-rhythms,  Jaimen moves this story with a complex score. That complexity supports a conventional verse and very singable chorus for a radio-ready tune that we should be hearing on FM across the country before long.

Through the Universe closes with “Piece of Me” a  pop-blues ballad in the vein of Piano Man, with Jaimen’s lower register Billy Joel voice beguiling us in the verse, If this is love/Why does it burn?/If this is heaven/Then why does it hurt? . But being his own man, he  is not satisfied  to stay there in a vocal comfort zone. He moves his voice up an octave  for the chorus to color the lines in heartbreak pain,  almost but not quite losing the note.  While we absorb this, he nails us to the wall with a blues back-up singer bridge and a soul-piercing finish worthy of  any blues band out there.

Ben Jaimen has all the puzzle pieces for stardom: welcoming good looks, gracious humility, prodigious talent, superb craftsmanship.  Through The Universe  proves he can put them all together with creativity and a unique personal style when he  has the time and does the work, which he clearly did.  It is an E-Ticket ride for the listener and a neon-bright billboard for the industry.  There is a new talent in town and he is flying through our universe at light speed.


Patrick O’Heffernan, Host Music FridayLive! radio

Through The Universe, Ben Jaimen

Available  on iTunes



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