March 21, 2008
Hello music video programming brethren! It’s Andy Gesner and the staff from HIP Video Promo bringing you a new video from a genuine favorite of ours. Lots of talented artists take commendable stands for good causes – but few dare to go as far as the admirable Ben Jelen. Since coming to national attention in 2004, the young singer-songwriter with an international profile has done more work for charitable projects than almost any other musician we can think of. Jelen’s concern about the perils of climate change compelled him to join the Natural Resources Defense Council and Wildlife Works; not satisfied with that, he’s launched his own Ben Jelen Foundation for the Environment. His website (link below) offers energy-saving tips and links to online petitions alongside the usual photos, tour dates and MP3s. He’s toured for Rock The Vote and the Save Darfur Foundation, and contributed tracks to benefit CDs for the RAINN Network and Amnesty International. His engagement with public issues is not superficial: his conscience is what compels him to pick up his guitar and broadcast his message to the globe.
That said, there’s nothing preachy or astringent about the bright, striking Ex-Sensitive. Jelen and mega-platinum producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera, too many others to list) have crafted a multifaceted set; one that functions simultaneously as a confessional statement of personal honesty and as a critique of a world out of balance. The songs on Ex-Sensitive are inspired by Jelen’s charitable work, but they’re deliberately left ambiguous: he could be singing about a deteriorating biosphere or a deteriorating relationship. “Wreckage”, the latest single, is a perfect example – “we’ve got to listen!”, he demands, before imploring his audience to assess particulars and put the pieces back together. Without tipping his hand, Jelen gently invites us to acknowledge that our world is in disarray, and asks us to “crawl out of the wreckage” of the past few years and into a more enlightened future. To us, it seems like the perfect song for an election year: a confession of misdeeds, a statement of hope, faith in the possibility of a fresh start.
Jelen’s message is wedded to an aching melody and a gorgeous arrangement. “Wreckage” is full of moving, heartfelt lyrics, a passionately-penned verse, and a rafter-raising chorus. Even the jaded (and stridently apolitical) critical establishment has begun to take notice of this galvanizing singer: in a four-and-a-half-star review in the All-Music Guide, Jo-Ann Greene calls Jelen “an Everyman with a cause”, and praises his mission to “connect with each and every one of us, and help reconnect us to each other.”
The clip for “Wreckage” is similarly ambitious. It marks the directorial debut for Linda Perry, and like everything she touches, it is an immediate winner. We watch the sun set on a beautiful seascape – but Ben Jelen isn’t in a position to appreciate it. Instead, he’s inside, seated behind the desk at something like a personal command-and-control center. The camera-friendly singer hammers out his words on a vintage manual typewriter, and manipulates the ribbon and the carriage in time with the “Wreckage” backbeat. But this is no old-school workspace – in a visual metaphor for the continuity of technology, the old Royal is wired to a bevy of flat-panel screens. The words he’s typing appear on one of them; the others are filled with images of current events and environmental wonders. This is, the video seems to suggest, the way we access the world: we see through a screen darkly, gathering our impressions as best as we can, and reacting to what reaches us. By the middle of the clip, he’s on his back, overwhelmed by the rapid-fire images. But he rallies, turns on a silver spigot to water an indoor garden, and watches as the screens fill with inspirational messages.
Huge props to Mark Gracious and the crew at Custard for making sure we have everything we need to bring you this amazing new video. We’ve still got some copies of Ex-Sensitive on hand for your on-air giveaway needs. Ben will also be hitting the road this Spring so please be in touch if you’d like to set up a video interview when he is in your market. If you need more info, call Andy Gesner at 732-613-1779 or e-mail us at info@HIPVideoPromo.com.
For info about Ben Jelen’s previous video, “Where Do We Go” click HERE