Make way for the new Ben Folds

Piano rock gets a twist with the latest disc from its main exponent

Claire Joseph

Ben Folds’ success with his trio, Ben Folds Five, would have been enough for many artists.

But Folds continues to prove he’s more than Ben Folds Five.

His solo albums and membership in The Bens ( a band with Ben Kweller and Ben Lee) prove Folds’ success is deserved, and his talents are diverse.

In fact, his abilities are so varied that he recently released a single featuring a Dr. Dre cover.

The single, “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” humorously slows down the Dre lyrics, allowing listeners to actually hear the words of the song guys have coyly blared while their girlfriends listened.

And, regardless of whether you support the lyrics or hate them, it’s amusing to hear Folds take lyrics so clearly written for hip-hop and use them in his piano-playing pop style.

It’s clear Folds and Dre don’t publicly agree on the importance of relationships.

For example, Folds’ latest solo album, “Songs for Silverman,” is lovingly dedicated to his wife and “her ears.”

“Songs for Silverman” uses DualDisc technology to provide a CD on one side of the disc and a DVD on the other.

The DVD side contains footage of an interview with Folds in which he talks about making the CD.

After listening to the album, you can flip it over and watch the DVD, learning more about the songs and the artist who created them.

But the DVD is short and, standing alone, would not provide a reason to buy the disc.

Fortunately for Folds, the CD side of “Songs for Silverman” supplies fans with reason enough.

Folds accurately depicts the world as hard and hypocritical; yet he doesn’t give up hope.

“Bastard,” the opening song on the album, criticizes children who can’t wait to grow up. They live in a mixed-up society in which pretending you know or care about problems is more important than whether you actually do, the song explains.

Folds sings, “Kids today are getting old too fast Ö they get nostalgic about the last 10 years/ Before the last 10 years have passed.”

He sings about children again in “Gracie,” a gentle song dedicated to his daughter.

“And I would never try to make you be/ Anything you didn’t really want to be/ Gracie girl,” Folds promises.

“Gracie” doesn’t sound much like “Landed,” the loud song Folds professes in his DVD to be the “first single” on “Songs for Silverman,” or much like the rougher singles of his past. Folds’ allusion to someone real gives the song a tender

feel and shows he has been influenced not only by Dr. Dre but also Eminem’s “Mockingbird,” another ode to a daughter.

The songs, which are different stylistically and lyrically, give depth to Folds’ “Songs for Silverman.”

Like with Folds’ latest disc, or with life, there are two sides to everything.