>By: James Burke – Staff Writer
I’ll admit it was a bit difficult to accept the fact that Folds had deserted his former musical career with Ben Folds Five to venture into the alluring underworld of solo albums. For most die-hard BFF fans, it is an arduous transition to the new style and attitude. But once you get past the pesky details, you realize just how similar this album is to his earlier works. As usual, Folds incorporates intense jazz chords and casual obscenities into his newest installment of slow and depressing melodic masterworks. Overall the album accentuates his superb skill on the piano and his uncanny ability to create a moving melody that leaves the audience in awe.
“Bastard” socks it to you with signature Ben Folds style and an addicting baseline. “Folds knows when to give it attitude and when to back off for a touching Kodak moment such as “Jesusland”. With its poignant theme and enticing harmonies it is reminiscent of songs on “Whatever and Ever Amen”, while songs like “Trusted” and “You to Thank” remind me of everything I liked about “Rockin’ the Suburbs”. “Sentimental Guy” is a bluesy ballad that quickly becomes a part of you and is probably the best track on the whole CD. This collection of songs is the best of the old and the new mixed together like a good vodka martini.
Lyrics like “you get smaller while the world gets big, the more you know you know you don’t know sh*t”, “you’re all alone behind your eyes” and “there’s a moment in my mind I’ve scribbled and erased a thousand times like a letter never written or sent” peek my curiosity and make me thankful that Folds decided to take his career in this direction. There may just be a song on this album for every human emotion. Folds is indeed a master songwriter, piano player and vocalist.
Together, the songs represent a musical achievement in Folds’ solo career that sits level with “Rockin’ the Suburbs”. This album however has been smoothed and kneaded to successfully produce a more mature sound with less bite than his previous one, and thankfully none of the musical expression is lost in translation. It is amazing that Ben can play all the instruments required for his songs, but more amazing is his unparalleled musical sense which strikes a universal chord in us all. This album is a sweet and surreal jazz experience that makes me wonder if those other guys really were holding him back.
For all you BFF fans out there- give this album a chance, give it at least one listen; it just might grow on you the same way it grew on me.
Music Reviews **** (4/4 stars)
(C) 2005 Musiqtone. All Rights Reserved. Commercial use of this article is strictly prohibited without explicit written permission from the author and non-commercial use is permitted with citation of author and source only by the third party using this review.