SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Critic's Pick
Critic's Pick
Release Date: 2008-03-05

Say this for Linda Perry. When she gets behind a project, you can’t question her commitment. But even by her standards,the former frontwoman for 4 Non Blondes, now a successful producer (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Courtney Love), brought a rare level of engagement to Ex-Sensitive, the sophomore album by singer-songwriter Ben Jelen.

Perry produced and engineered the album, co-wrote four songs with Jelen, contributed two songs of her own, played guitar, bass, electric sitar and a variety of keyboard instruments, and released the disc on her label: Custard Records. She even found time to make her directorial debut with the video for his first single, “Wreckage.”

Is Perry’s faith in Jelen well-placed? Based on the evidence of Ex-Sensitive, the answer would be a tentative “yes.” Jelen, a native of Scotland who lives in New York and spent a year going to high school in San Antonio, has a soft, pleasant tenor and an easy melodic grace. His knack for hooks shines on “Where Do We Go” and the carnival psychedelia of the title song has mid-period Beatles echoes about it.

On the other hand, his sincerity and musicianship are currently running a couple of steps ahead of his lyrical vision. As a result, this album makes for an enjoyable listening experience, but not quite a compelling one. Think of him, for now at least, as a lighter, less angst-ridden alumnus of the Aimee Mann/Michael Penn school of thinking-person’s pop. Jelen makes a return to his old SA haunts on March 11 for an NPR Showcase at Gallery Nord. 7pm Tue, Mar 11, Gallery Nord, $25, 2009 Northwest Military Highway, (210) 348-0088

- Gilbert Garcia

Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.