His second album, Songs for Silverman, is his most mature and nuanced work yet, something that didn’t go over well with a lot of his fans. Now, I’m not sure what sort of Ben Folds fan you are if you don’t like that album, but I suppose you’re the sort who is drawn to jokey stuff like ‘Song for the Dumped’ and ‘Rockin’ the Suburbs’ and oblivious to such sublime work as ‘Alice Childress,’ ‘Missing the War’ and ‘The Luckiest.’
Sure, Ben is a cut-up, but he’s also a masterful chronicler of human frailty and insecurity. And he’s an expert storyteller… his songs are often glimpses into the lives of ordinary people, and he captures the small details that make those stories feel real.
I’m a little worried that on his next album, Way to Normal, he will react to the tepid response to Silverman and lean toward the immature. The two tracks I’ve heard are enjoyable enough, but pretty lightweight. I hope that’s not the case.
This song is a beautiful little tale about what a ressurected Jesus might make of modern-day suburbia.
Broadcast to each house, they drop your name
But no one knows your face
Billboards quoting things you’d never say
You hang your head and pray for Jesusland
It’s taking a shot at the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of “holy” Americans, but it’s not bitter… it’s resigned and sad, and all the more powerful for it.
Here’s hoping Ben has more of this sort of thing in store.