Capable Of Anything - Ben Folds - So There
Mike Katzif. In the wake of Ben Folds Five's dissolution inBen Folds embarked on an assortment of new projects: He's released solo albums and composed for film and TV; he's collaborated with Nick Hornby and William Shatner; he's even served as a judge on TV's The Sing Offwhich led to an a cappella record.
Yet no matter the setting, even when he's worked off his familiar template of fuzzed-out pop and piano ballads, his former band's legacy remained a nagging phantom limb — especially to those still aching for an unlikely reunion with Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee.
But now that Folds has gotten that out of his system, at least for now, it's a fine time to reassess his solo projects without unfairly comparing them to what they weren't. But that title could also function as a mission statement for the twists and turns in Folds' life and music — and especially his latest endeavor. Capable Of Anything - Ben Folds - So There album split into discrete halves, So There opens with eight new songs written and arranged in tandem with yMusic.
At times, the minute piece pays homage to 20th-century American composers like George Gershwin and Aaron Coplandthe American songbook and Broadway musicals. It's lavish and complex, and in brief stretches it verges into dissonant and arrhythmic territory that's as challenging as anything Folds has written. But it's also undeniably a Ben Folds piece — complete with dexterous melodic runs and pop harmonies that call back to what Ben Folds Five hinted at on 's wonderful The Unauthorized Capable Of Anything - Ben Folds - So There Of Reinhold Messner.
Folds then wrote new pop songs that could be interpreted and embellished with a chamber orchestra. He found his match in yMusic, the Capable Of Anything - Ben Folds - So There New York classical ensemble. On So Thereand especially in "Capable Of Anything" and the plaintive ballad "Not A Fan," yMusic doesn't merely accompany Folds, but also elevates the music with vivid instrumental textures and the fluttering Surrender (Walden Remix) - Dinka - A Date With Dinka that pops up in the spaces between his voice and piano.
Like so much of Folds' songwriting, So There 's songs ruminate on aging, regrets and raw feelings after ending a relationship: "How could I forget you," he asks in the stinging title track, "when there's nothing to forget? Elsewhere, in "FD-A," Folds' wry humor provides a palette-cleansing lift. It begins with the onomatopoeic mimicking of the letters of the notes and intervals he and the ensemble play — first 'F,' then 'A,' then 'D. For many musicians, So There could have played like an indulgent diversion, frustrating Tommy Steele - Come On, Lets Go hungry for another rock album.
For Folds, who constantly hones his craft by taking unexpected paths, it extends a career-long flirtation with modern orchestral composition to its logical next step.
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