Review

The debut album by London five-piece band Ben's Brother, Beta Male Fairytales saw Jamie Hartman stepping out from the shadow of his big brother Ben, who inspired the group name, with a self-written, soulful, and emotion-filled album featuring 12 tracks, all written by Hartman. Ben's Brother were a proper gigging band (not one discovered on a TV talent show), but the vocal qualities are not dissimilar to Ben Mills, who did nearly win The X Factor. The problem that Ben's Brother faced was that the mid-2000s were awash with singers who had that Rod Stewart/Joe Cocker gravelly vocal quality, from established stars like the Stereophonics to newcomers like Paolo Nutini, and Beta Male Fairytales had nothing to distinguish it from the background coffee-table albums prevalent at the time. It opens with "Rise" and "Beauty Queen," both tracks released as singles and both straightforward piano and guitar-led midtempo ballads. The tracks "Home," "Bad Dream," and "God by Another Name" had some of the musical arrangement qualities of Keane, but the penultimate track was an interesting 98-second instrumental, "Harmonica in F (Interlude)," almost an Irish jig on the acoustic guitar and harmonica. ~ Sharon Mawer, Rovi

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