The “smarty-pants pop” (Spin) of the Ben Folds Five brought the band platinum-plus selling records in the ’90s and the band’s song “Brick” has become a signature tune of the decade. But with the start of the new millennium, Ben Folds parted ways with the Five for a solo career.
After recording Rocking the Suburbs and several EPs on his own, Folds returned to working with a band for the first time since the Ben Folds Five disbanded in 2000. For his newest release, Songs for Silverman, Folds had the help of bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson during his Nashville recording sessions. “I wanted to make my ‘grow a beard, lock yourself in the studio, and play for a couple of weeks album,’” Folds said. “Bass, piano and drums has always been most natural for me. I have tapes back to when I was 12 years old that are piano, bass and drums.”
The beard may not have worked out, but the trio came out of the studio with an 11-song epic of straightforward live-in-the-studio sound and emotional tunes. “Some records really capture a moment in time,” Folds said. “This album is about being spiritually tight, not necessarily musically tight.”
Featuring songs about Folds’ daughter, politics and a tribute to his friend singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, Songs For Silverman has been praised by critics as Folds’ most mature work to date. “With the heartfelt, elaborately crafted Songs for Silverman, the 38-year-old Folds has found his footing as a mature artist. … Folds never loses track of his pop hooks, even when he’s deploying tricky time signatures and Steely Dan-worthy chord progressions,” wrote RollingStone.com.