Ben Folds

Songs for Silverman

You know how Woody Allen keeps making the same movie over and over again, with no regard for the fact that people stopped buying tickets somewhere between Shadows and Fog and Soon-Yi? Same goes for Ben Folds, who hasn't wavered from his trademark sensitive-guy-with-a-piano, '70s-inspired power pop even after ditching his Five for a solo career. Musically, there are few surprises here: piano, bass, drums, swelling choruses, and that just-a-little-bit-flat vocal. Where Folds gets interesting is his subject matter, with songs about being a dad ("Gracie"), dating a psycho ("Landed"), and mourning Elliott Smith ("Late"). And he's still funny: Over ooh-aah harmonies worthy of Karen Carpenter, he sings, "Judy, I won't be your bitch anymore," on "Give Judy My Notice." At one point Folds muses, "I used to be a sentimental guy ... I never thought so much could change." Don't kid yourself, babe, you're still the same softy I loved in the '90s, and even if the sound doesn't evolve much, I'll still buy your records. Then again, I did enjoy Melinda and Melinda.

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