The evolution of the ballad has been one hell of a ride. From string and piano compositions, through long hair bands with love song lyrics, it has been bounced off heavy metal, found a home in R&B and settled into back at where it began, with strings and piano.

The ballad, ballad rock or any form has been mastered. To truly change the style or even make a significant impact on it, you’ll truly have to be something spectacular. For Chicago native Ben Draiman, that level of spectacular is not there…yet.

Though Draiman’s The Past is Not Far Behind is not a genre bending album, it is glaring beam of light in an overly saturated, thick fog.  His six track EP is full of a warmth and growth that holds a lot of potential, but holds its own quite nicely. When you begin The Past is Not Far Behind you’re eased in to “Soon Enough.” The opening track feels slightly off as the vocals duet with piano, I can’t help but feel we’ve tapped someone who loved Meatloaf (artist, not food) a little too much as a child. Then, Draiman does what he does best. As his vocals become harmonized with this emotionally charged guitar, piano and strings, any association is severed and his sound takes off. From then on, it is smooth sailing of beautiful instrumentals and powerful vocals. “Avalanche” and “21 Seconds” transition to a much more solid sound and, as is with the whole album, Draiman’s style sets in, becoming better and better as the album progresses. By the time we arrive at “Taken for Granted” his sound is invigorating and bleeds with a talented honesty that leaves its mark. From beginning to end, like an ascent from ground to sky, The Past is Not Far Behind elevates a sound into a vastness of endless possibilities.

Citing influences of The Fray, Evanescence, Three Doors Down and Daughtry, it might seem easy to pin down Ben Draiman. I encourage you to not do that; because, well, you’d be wrong. The singer/songwriter/musician is framing a sound that is original, powerful and most importantly honest. He is not attempting to be anything other than himself. With that he will go far, might even push the ballad to the next level. So keep an eye on Ben Draiman, get your hands on The Past is Not Far Behind and see for yourself.