Indie-pop artist Jake Benjamin recently released his album, Broken Stars, a 12-track collection inspired by reading The Letters of Vincent van Gogh.
Jake explains, “I decided that the songs on this record should tie into themes of the psyche and the human spirit. Some of the songs were written from famous artists’ quotes, and others were written from my own experiences with anxiety, depression, relationships, and sexuality.”
He goes on, adding, “Today, I’m open to showing all the aspects of my life, including my queerness.”
Produced by Jake and Pascal Pahl, Broken Stars is Jake’s most elaborate project to date, featuring 25 musicians, five engineers, and five co-writers. Sumptuous horns, strings, piano, guitars, synths, and a loop pedal provide sonic depth defined by integrated structure.
Characterized by a “beyond pop” feeling, Jake’s sound reflects his jazz training while favoring evocative moods and compelling storylines. It’s a sound influenced by Björk, Snarky Puppy, Vulfpeck, Becca Stevens, Jacob Collier, and Kneebody.
From a subjective viewpoint, entry points on the album include the first track, “It Comes As A Friend,” featuring Carey Clayton, which travels on ghostly, rippling colors as Jake’s mellow voice imbues the lyrics with pensive tones as he narrates his struggles with anxiety.
“It comes as a friend and stays as a shadow / Let it reach your head and rattle you to the end / And everything starts / Except your weary heart.”
A personal favorite, the gentle luster of “Of Water And Air” evokes a dreamy soundscape topped by Jake’s redolent voice. Whereas the quixotic softness of “4 Hours” mirrors the gravitas of love, flowing on creamy layers of jazz savors.
Talking about “4 Hours,” Jake says, “I remember getting the mix with the synth turned up and just twirling around the apartment as if I were a snow globe. I was so happy with the orchestral and textural quality of Pascal’s production.”
The juxtaposition of luminous, sparkling accents and dark, rumbling coloration gives “The Call” an alluring flow. “Heartfelt” with Jared Yee, blends hints of jazz and pop with cashmere horns to form a deliciously expressive tune, especially when the saxophone solo enters, giving the song passionate hues.
According to Jake, “Be heartfelt and be who you are is the message of the whole song.”
The last song, “Countrymen,” featuring Danielle Wertz, was produced by Jake. Gleaming and tender, the low-slung harmonics infuse the tune with suffusions of quivering colors as the vocals provide silk-like filaments of sound.
Gorgeously wrought, Broken Stars delivers luscious residual textures akin to spells and exsufflations, all capped by the poignant voice of Jake Benjamin.