Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Sep 7th, 2015

Ben Folds: So There

ben foldsBen Folds
So There
(New West Records)

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Flighty strings featuring a markedly effective cello and flute counter the staccato piano of Ben Folds on “Capable of Anything,” the jumpy little opener of the piano player/vocalist/songwriter’s new album, So There. The “Not A Fan” love song follows featuring a sweet, tentative piano, those strings again and Folds’ oddly sweet vocals. “Long Way To Go” borrows from Brian Wilson (in fact there are many places here that Folds reminds me of Wilson in his piano-fueled compositions, reliance on strings and the way he layers harmonies) with spiking horns, plodding piano and well-placed backing vocals. “Seems what’s been good for the music, isn’t always so good for the life” – great lyrics like this make up Ben’s coming-home-from-the-road pop tune, “Phone In a Pool.” He has some great Chicago song-scaping on a silly paean to music structure, “F10-D-A.” So There ends with three concertos, the first running with desperation, with moments of sweeping lilting piano and strings, the second, a very pretty, mainly piano-led soft piece, and the third with slicing strings, deep percussion and the piano playing more a flapping-like percussion bed beneath the clicking and clacking of the orchestra. Admittedly Ben Folds is not everyone’s cup of tea. His songs are quirky, at the very least. His voice, which I happen to think is quite well-seasoned, has a certain every-man quality about it, which doesn’t separate Folds all that much from the listener (an honesty I feel works to his advantage), but these stark piano tracks are of a certain style to be sure.

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Ben Folds: So There