Songs for Silverman
8

  • Ben Folds
  • Sony
  • 2005-04-26

Being the favorite of Indie kids who still hold the torch for the dying flame of piano music isn’t easy. The pressure can get to you, and you can run away to production and guitars and a huge sound, to make yourself feel safer. That was Rockin’ the Suburbs, Folds’ last album. With Songs for Silverman, Ben is back with a more paired down sound that emphasizes a directness that fans haven’t seen for a few records.

This is not to say that the record is simply piano, mimicking his wildly successful Ben Folds Live record, indeed, this record finds Ben with a new back up band, which compliments his style subtly, and creates a basis for his mature piano work to shine. Though for the most part, the drums on this record are standard pop rock beats, they seem to posses an intensity and passion that is not found on Folds’ other records. The counterpoint that the Bass provides to the airy keys grounds the record beautifully simply.

…twisting loving lyrics to wrap her up in a blanket of metaphor worthy of an adult song

That said, the songwriting on this record has its highpoints in the best of Ben’s writing. Tracks like “Bastard” recall the nostalgic retrospect of “Fred Jones Pt. 2”, and yet find new ways to innovate, and add to the songwriter’s message, delving deep into knowledge and the way that we look at it. “Sentimental Guy” finds Ben on a rainy afternoon, staring out a window, tapping out notes about how he once was, and striking chords with universal messages about change and the way that every event in our lives ripple through our futures, effecting things we may never expect them to. In an ode to his daughter, “Grace”, Ben sings her to sleep, with a wry smirk on his face, twisting loving lyrics to wrap her up in a blanket of metaphor worthy of an adult song. “Trusted” delves into the lack of such things in every relationship, and the ways that it works to bond and untie love all at once. Ben explores the new American cultural psyche in “Jesusland”, a song so subtle and relaxed that it almost feels like a stroll across the middle of the United States, hand in hand. A standout track is one that Ben wrote in honor of his friend Elliott Smith, titled “Late”, in which he lists all of the things that he would have told Smith, though now it is too late. For anyone who loved Smith, the song hits a sore nerve, putting into words thoughts that many have thought, reminding them of a sadness that they may just now be getting over.

they are the sort that you will find yourself whispersinging to yourself while shopping for peanut butter and jam at 2 AM

The tone of this record is a decidedly more subdued one that his last release. If Rockin’ the Suburbs was the disc you played at the party Saturday night, then Songs for Silverman is the CD you pop in on the way to breakfast the next morning. The tunes aren’t for the most part ones to dance around to, or even especially to clap along to, but they are the sort that you will find yourself whispersinging to yourself while shopping for peanut butter and jam at 2 AM. As usual, Ben’s words and music come across as a good friend, calling you out on a hundred things you know you do, but hope that no one else has caught onto.

This is the sort of record that grows on you. Ben Folds fans may not love it at first, as it is a definite departure from his previous work, in production quality and in style, but after giving it a fair shot, it will surely have a permanent spot in their music rotation.

“And I’ve got you. To thank. For this.”

blog comments powered by Disqus