Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ben Folds Album Review: Way to Normal

The reactions to Ben Folds' newest album, "Way to Normal", have been, to say the least, mixed. Some people hail Folds' return to poppy, peppy irreverence as a good thing, while others consider it an "unconscionably awful" album.

As a dedicated Ben Folds fan, I will enjoy pretty much anything Folds puts out with rare exception. And I'm one who has felt his recent albums have been a touch too subtle and nuanced for my personal tastes.

So I'm on the side that is glad Folds has opened up the throttle on Way to Normal. I really like it as an album. At times, it feels like Folds is overcompensating for three albums of easy listening and restraint. I learned about halfway through my first listen that Folds had gotten divorced right before he started the album. The song "Errant Dog" told me that pretty clearly, and I had only to confirm with Google.

I do hope Folds isn't through with the softer sound of some of his other works. Songs for Silverman was an amazing album and includes some of my favorite songs of his. "Time" is an amazingly sweet and selfless breakup song with great lyrics and a haunting melody.

But I'm also very glad that he lays about a half a dozen F-bombs on Way To Normal.

One last note: I am loving Folds catering to old-school and new-school sensibilities by offering Way to Normal in vinyl and live performances from his tour off of iTunes.

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