So There Preview

Michael Quick

So in lieu of doing a Spotify Playlist of the Week, I thought that I would share what I’ve been listening to all week.

Ben Folds has been working on a new album slated for release on Sept. 11.

However, on Sept. 2, NPR set up a stream of his new album ahead of its release. I’ve been engrossed since then.

Folds is an incredibly active musician who has done work in his band Ben Folds Five, composed for both TV and film, as well as released several solo albums.

This most recent one, So There, is an interesting quasi-departure from his other solo albums. Folds has always incorporated a large amount of instrumentation that deviates from what is expected in a piano-pop record, but this time he has expanded upon that even further by joining forces with the yMusic instrumental ensemble.

The ensemble consists of the fairly unique combination of a string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet.

The album as a whole definitely sounds like a Ben Folds record.

With some tracks laden with musicality and complexity, dancing melodies between the piano, vocals, and ensemble; while others are backed off and simple, essentially creating a backdrop to reinforce the lyrical content. And even though it sounds very much like Folds, the instrumentalists add a whole other dimension to his music, ultimately creating a unique sounding album.

In the past, his work has featured both strings and horns, but they’ve mostly been in the background, as support, not anywhere near the level they are featured in this collection.

Folds is a master of creating melodies and countermelodies amongst the instruments and the ensemble performing these with almost the same magnitude as the vocal and piano create a grandeur in these recordings unlike anything else.

I would strongly encourage anyone to listen to this new record. It can be streamed on NPR’s website and will be available for purchase (CD, MP3, and Vinyl) on Sept. 11. It’s really not one to miss.