And so I begin my next 1,000 songs.
‘Evaporated’ is the final track on Ben Folds Five’s sophomore album, Whatever and Ever Amen. It’s slow and angsty and one of the best examples in Ben Folds’ whole catalog of him being introspective.
Folds is so fast and funny so often than he really earns his more somber and thoughtful moments. For a guy so steeped in irony, an earned tear is a rare and lovely thing. He shares that quality with one of his idols, Randy Newman, who has written his own share of songs like this one.
If I had to name a modern heir to Randy Newman, I’d go with Ben Folds. Folds has a similar gift for storytelling, irony and humor and he’s able to pull off the smart-ass and the sincere with pretty much equal success. He’s not quite up to Newman’s caliber as a satirist — yet — but he’s in the same ballpark.
Musically, Folds is even more adventurous than Newman, finding inventive ways to make familiar instruments sound brand new. Ben Folds Five used a simple lineup of piano, bass and drums to produce some of the most exciting pop music of the 90s without ever really getting the credit they deserved.
While Ben Folds Five’s debut album is a seemingly impossible act to follow, the band’s second CD Wherever and Ever Amen was absolutely up to the task. Folds expanded his palette, making use of strings, horns and studio trickery to produce a stunning collection of songs. It would be a struggle to find another artist or band whose first two albums are as satisfying as these.
As with Ben Folds Five, it is hard to choose a song to highlight from Whatever and Ever Amen. From the hard-rocking opening track ‘One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces’ (incidentally, the only song in my catalog of over 8,000 that contains the word “dwarf”) to the delicate closer, ‘Evaporated,’ all of these songs are worthy of the spotlight.