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Songs for Silverman

Songs for Silverman

3.8 5
by Ben Folds

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There was never any doubt as to which member of the Ben Folds Five was in the driver's seat -- except, of course, to folks who didn't bother mulling over the band's name. Still, it's been surprising to see how little Folds's music has lost in translation from band format to his solo career, which hits Chapter Two quite effectively on Songs for Silverman. The


There was never any doubt as to which member of the Ben Folds Five was in the driver's seat -- except, of course, to folks who didn't bother mulling over the band's name. Still, it's been surprising to see how little Folds's music has lost in translation from band format to his solo career, which hits Chapter Two quite effectively on Songs for Silverman. The singer-pianist tones down the shtick considerably here, wearing his heart quite openly on his sleeve for songs like the chirping "Gracie," an unabashedly sweet ode to his young daughter, and the considerably grayer "Late," on which he addresses an old friend, the late Elliott Smith. Folds spends a good bit of Silverman seated, alone, at his piano -- a situation he handles cleverly, waxing loungey when needed but never crossing over into Billy Joel territory. A passel of tracks -- notably the punchy "Bastard," which shifts time signatures with dizzying frequency-- have enough percussive pulse to satisfy BFF diehards, but for the most part, Songs for Silverman paints a far more intimate picture: a portrait of the artist as a man ready to admit he's not as young and invincible as he once imagined.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Christopher Monger
Ben Folds is at his best when he melds the acerbic with the heartfelt, a balancing act that he's honed to perfection on the warm and ballad-heavy Songs for Silverman. Opening track "Bastard," with a fuzzed-out bassline right out of 1995, kick-starts a record that plays like a show in reverse. The meat's all upfront, so those expecting a show-stopping encore will just have to listen to it backward, as this is Ben Folds the family man, not the embittered youth who joined the "Army" on 1999's Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. While there is a warm undercurrent of tenderness that runs through Silverman, it's never cloying or clichéd; rather, Folds can take the simplest notion, insert a gorgeous piano motif, and hit that one line in falsetto that gives you goose bumps -- the lovely "Time" is a perfect example -- without breaking a sweat. On a song for his daughter ("Gracie") he teases, fawns, and pontificates without ever seeming overbearing -- a line like "you can't fool me/I saw you when you came out/You've got your mama's taste but you got my mouth" makes even the most spawn-fearing post-hipster reconsider the prospect of parenthood. However, Folds' brand of wry observation is most effective when it's applied to an antagonist like on the aforementioned "Bastard" ("You get smaller as the world gets big/'The Whiz Man' will never fit you like 'The Whiz Kid' did"), and while his barbs have taken on more of a nostalgic bent, soaring tracks like "Jesusland," "You to Thank," and "Late" -- the latter is a stark, simple, blue-collar ode to Elliott Smith -- confirm what many already knew, that Ben Folds is in this for the long haul, and you the consumer are luckier for it. [Songs for Silverman is also available in a "special package" edition that boasts a 40-page booklet and a DVD, as well as on limited-edition vinyl with the bonus track "Bitches Ain't S**t."]

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ben Folds   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Bucky Baxter   Pedal Steel Guitar,12-string Guitar
Paul Buckmaster   Conductor
John Mark Painter   French Horn,Upright Bass
"Weird Al" Yankovic   Background Vocals
David Henry   Cello
Lindsay Jamieson   Drums,Vocals
Ned Henry   Violin
Jared Reynolds   Bass,Vocals
Frally Folds   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Paul Buckmaster   Orchestral Arrangements
John Mark Painter   Producer
Ben Folds   Composer,Producer
Joe Costa   Engineer
Kryssy Bloch   Creative Services Coordinator
Joseph Roeder   Creative Services Coordinator
Piero Giramonti   Producer
Mike Nack   Authoring
Marc Stecker   Authoring
Richard J. Alcock   Producer
Calvin Aurand   Producer

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Songs for Silverman 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read some early reports about this album that said this was a more mature Ben Folds, I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it. I knew I loved more somber songs like "Boxing", "Evaporated" and "Fred Jones Pt II" but I thought I would long for the smartass songs that are prevalant in all his other works. Well, after listening to Songs for Silverman, I realized he is definitely ready to elavate his work and grow along with his audience. Many of the songs reverberate quite well with things that are going on in my life and I can relate to them in a certain way. It isn't a depressing album at all despite the mellow tone of many of the songs. If anything, it has a smart and sweet tone to it that seems to be singular to Folds compared to any other piano artist. Needless to say, this will be in my player for quite a bit like all his other CDs but for different reasons. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I eagerly purchased Ben Folds' new "Songs for Silverman" expecting everything he's contributed to his records in the past - pop and pizzazz. But I was sorely disappointed to find that this album lacked the energy that Folds normally puts into each of his songs. Each song sounded a lot like the last one, and his trademark piano was...well, boring! Still, one must remember that anything Ben Folds does is still better than the stuff you hear on the radio. A few songs that I did enjoy were "Landed", "Gracie", and "Jesusland".
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is only one word I can find that truly describes Ben Folds: genius. Ben Folds has once again dazzled his audience with a number of wide ranging songs in all different styles. Folds is quite a rare musician in that not only can he write amazing piano music, from backround chords, beats, and seemingly impossible solos, but he also is extremely gifted at writing lyrics. His lyrics talk about everything from marriage to his b@stard of a father to his relationship with his youngest daughter, and while many passages may seem random or obscure, there is almost always something there that the listener can relate to. While his writing is impressive, his piano playing and singing are just as amazing. From the incredible piano solos in 'You to Thank' and 'B@stard' to the outstanding vocals in 'Landed' and 'Trusted', Folds has created not just a masterpiece, but a work of art, revealing a more personal side of himself that before now, he has only barely exposed. I would recommend this CD to anyone, whether or not you are a Ben Folds fan, and regardless of what type of music you like. I guarantee that if you give this CD a try, you will not only love it, but you will fall in love with Ben Folds as well, just as countless other fans have.
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