In a sea of music which can all too often be void of feeling and expression, it is refreshing to encounter an artist capable of uniquely expressing a multitude of human emotions. Singer/songwriter Ben Draiman pairs a candid, interesting take on a plethora of situations with fantastic songwriting one could categorize as piano-driven, alternative rock.
However, let there be no rush with the labels -- it's tough to single out people Draiman truly sounds like. Though many people may notice the last name and quickly conclude he must be a carbon copy of his brother, (Disturbed frontman David Draiman), that assumption will prove baseless rather early on while listening to this EP. The ferocity, energy and aggression of Disturbed -- though quite welcome in my library -- is a world away from this EP, as it should be. Ben Draiman's music is contemplative and somehow calming, with soaring melodies and absolutely addictive choruses.
A perfect introduction to Draiman's sound comes in the form of EP opener "Soon Enough", a driving, solid rock song with a contagious sense of determination and hope. Draiman's light vocal intonations in the introduction give way to a towering chorus. Unbelievable hit potential is scrawled all over this one, and the lyrics are powerful throughout: "A strange thing happened on the way to salvation / Out of all the madness came a startling revelation / Sometimes wrong is the way it’s meant to be/ And now I’m so thankful that I know the way things stand."
Equal parts melancholic and invigorating, the dynamic "Avalanche" effortlessly combines melodic textures with occasional crunchy guitars, while Draiman offers another tremendously moving vocal performance. The song fades away eloquently with a few haunting strikes of the piano. Then arrives what is perhaps the most promising moment of The Past Is Not Far Behind, "21 Seconds", a goosebump-inducing, poignant tune in which Draiman wistfully laments, "Took 21 seconds to lose you." The words are simple yet touching.
The Past Is Not Far Behind has remarkable balance in the spectrum of feelings. "Would You Know Love" has a pleasant easygoing flow, while "Overcome" possesses a stunning, indescribable darkness ("She speaks no truth, but she tells no lies" is one particularly memorable line). "Taken for Granted" closes the EP in empowering, fantastic form, where Draiman showcases a truly versatile vocal range. His cries of "Never mind the darkness when there's something worth believing" will surely resonate in listeners' minds for a long while to come.
If bands like Daughtry, The Fray or Kings of Leon impress you with their catchy hooks, yet leave you desiring something with a bit more sophistication, variety, depth and intensity, it's likely Ben Draiman's eclectic music will strike a chord with you. Once again, it's not always easy to provide specific comparisons, particularly because Draiman is, in fact, unique; having said that, though, I could easily envision a good handful of these songs appealing to a broad audience and catching on as popular hits. I truly recommend The Past Is Not Far Behind to those who strongly feel music and who are seeking highly emotive songs charged by the highs and lows of the complete scope of emotions and experiences.