Monday, August 22, 2005

Ben Folds by Kirk Bage

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By Kirk Bage

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As of 1st September my affair with Napster will be temporarily over. We've had some good times, but I have to move on... Mostly because my current PC is a piece of shit and I need the money to upgrade it so it actually works when I want it to. Besides, I have been stuck listening to the same old albums for months, and only a long train journey on Friday snapped me out of it and into Ben Folds' 2005 offering. I've liked this guy for years, whether with the Five or on his own (more or less the same thing, anyway) - but I've always felt a slight frustration that he never quite seems to peak and get all his ideas into a fulfilling whole on his albums. Four or five good hummable tunes are going to be there every time, he is a talented writer, but ten or eleven seems too far for him. Songs for Silverman, then, is no exception - the emotion is there, the piano rings out, the lyrics are as tragic and touching as ever, but after a couple of listens you have your favourites and the rest are discarded. A shame for him, because he can't be described exactly as a singles artist, either. Some time soon he will release a Best Of compilation and everyone will buy it, saying, oh my God, I never knew he had so many great tunes, but that doesn't help Songs for Silverman. There is a growing maturity present; a less frivolous air, whilst his trademark humour remains intact - his songs, as always, are little stories in themselves, mini journeys into lives and loves and mishaps and failings, and I love that. If intelligent melancholy melody were the currency of the world Ben Folds would be a rich man. There's a time and a place where your mood can only be satisfied by him alone - and that's the best endorsement I think I can give him. Ben Folds: 9/10 Songs for Silverman: 7/10

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