BENI – Beni

April 1, 2013 at 6:07 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

BENI – Beni

1. Introduction
2. Here alone (Album version)
3. Harmony
4. Break out
5. True fighter
6. Miracle (Album version)
7. Oh, happy day
8. Silhouette (Album version)
9. Infinite
10. Gems
11. Daphne
12. Step
13. Always

♦ ♦ ♦

Beni is the self-titled debut album by Japanese/American singer BENI, released under the name Beni Arashiro on February 9, 2005. The album reached #14 on the Oricon weekly charts, where it charted for six weeks.

Introduction is pretty cool since it’s almost entirely acapella if it wasn’t for the organ in the background, I love how BENI (yes I’ll call her by her current artist name) is really working those adlibs together with the background vocals.

The introduction to Here alone (Album version) sounded a bit like Arabic music to me actually, and it’s totally not what I expected this song to be. It mixes some interesting sounds together and it has a bass to die for. BENI sounds really young here, ofcourse she was barely 19 at the time but she already had the huge voice and she knew exactly how to use it in this song.

Harmony is a special song because it was both the first single released for the album as BENI’s debut single. I really like the simple pop ambience compared to the rather exotic previous track, and there’s a sense of positivity speaking from everything in this song. The chorus sounds rather hard to sing, but ofcourse BENI’s vocals are right on the spot and she contributes to the carefree sound that I love so much here.

At first I thought Break out would be a mellow song since it started out pretty smooth and calm, and it’s in English too so it caught my attention instantly. But then after a certain part a fast beat comes in which tells me that this will be another uptempo track (I already thought the title wouldn’t fit a midtempo or slow song). The issue with this track is that the lyrics and music don’t mix very well. The lyrics speak of sadness and loneliness while the music sounds a bit like Rita Ora’s ‘Hot Right Now’. Minor detail.

I loved the mysterious opening of True fighter and how it eventually develops into another one of those kickass songs. BENI sings of how the title words qualify to her and she is so right, there’s so much attitude in her vocals I believe it instantly. The electric guitar solo in the bridge gives the track even more kick and energy, it’s easy to tell this is the edgiest song on the album yet.

Miracle (Album version) was the last A-side released for this album (on the same day as the album release date, fun fact), and although it has a very appealing sound it was probably due to that little fact that this single sold so poorly. Anyway, when I listen to this song I can name about 5 different reasons why this should’ve sold more copies. To keep it short though, the main reason is the great collab between the soft pop music with pretty strings in the background and BENI’s powerful vocals.

Oh no she didn’t. I never thought Oh, happy day would actually be that Christian song and yet she did it (just minutes (!) before writing this review I saw that part in Sister Act 2 where they sang this song and I said how sick I was of it…). Awkward. Well anyway, BENI kicked that little kid’s ass with her rendition of this song, FALSETTO NOTE INCLUDED. BENI completely cured me after all by delivering the best version of this song ever.

Interesting to see Silhouette (Album version) here since it was Harmony‘s B-side and the only B-side to appear on the album for that matter. It does have a very interesting sound, somehow it’s stuck between having a South-American vibe and a general pop sound. Kinda gives you something to think about while listening. It’s not something that keeps me interested for five and a half minutes long though.

Infinite… has that typical early 00’s sound to it if you know what I mean, and those kind of songs really have to sound good in order to appeal to me (since it’s not a sound I particularly love). I have to admit it eventually sounded better than I expected at first, mainly because there’s an amazing guitar solo in the bridge, but although the melodies in this song aren’t the best BENI gave it her best shot and the did pretty well saving this song.

Gems is the first song to clearly display a more R&B-themed sound, and after all the songs I’ve heard from BENI I still think R&B songs still suit her best of all. Now this is R&B in its mellowest form, but it always gives BENI the chance to show off her great vocals and they still come out best in songs like this. Pretty simple track, but yet it’s very effective.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Daphne and how it was the best song in her early career, and already from the first note I was convinced of the fact it might be true. It’s like a power ballad, calm yet very powerful and BENI finds her way around easily. Although we’ve all heard songs like this one before, BENI managed to make it more memorable and I’m sure it will stay in my head for quite a while.

Step is a rather cheerful song, a pop song ofcourse, but I find it’s pretty generic at this point on the album. The brassy elements in the music are very cool and make it just a little bit different from other songs, but despite that it doesn’t make up for the fact that there are a lot more songs like this out there. Come on BENI, surprise me…

As the last song on the album, I was already hoping Always would be a ballad and I definitely got things my way with this song. It’s a beautiful ballad with lovely melodies that just took my breath away after listening to Step. The acoustic guitar in this song together with the soft bass notes always work in a slow and soft song, it’s one of those typical tracks I have a soft spot for the first time I hear it. Too bad she waited til the last moment for me to hear it. Great closing track though.

For a first album, BENI surprised me with her self-titled creation. True, the second half lacked a little bit compared to the first half (all the way up to Oh, happy day), but in every song you could already hear this young artist trying to show herself and her own style. I believe she was very comfortable with the musical style on this album, because today this is still BENI’s signature style (a little bit more towards R&B nowadays but still I can hear some similarities). If I heard this album back in 2005, I think I would’ve decided to follow her anyway to discover what else she would have to offer in the future, but I’ll never find out what I did. What I do know, is that this album will eventually lead to me exploring ‘Girl 2 Lady’ and ‘Gem’ too.

Favorite tracks: Here alone | Harmony | True fighter | Miracle | Oh, happy day | Gems | Daphne | Always

4 stars


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