Ben Folds has gone in quite a few different directions over the years. He’s been in a rock band. He’s produced an a cappella album. He’s worked with acclaimed author Nick Hornby. One thing that has been constant throughout all his artistic exploration is that he’s consistently been making some excellent music. (Example: a song of his I shared for a Throwback Thursday late last year.) Today’s Song of the Day, “So There,” the title track from his new album (a collaborative effort with New York-based classical/pop sextet yMusic), showcases both qualities of Ben Folds (his penchant for throwing musical curveballs, and for giving us some terrific songs).
“So There” is one of the more uptempo songs on the album, and its jittery, kinetic vibe is both exhilarating and unique. yMusic really brings an exciting new energy to the table here, one that complements Ben’s wry, maturing brand of songcraft. The lyrics, as is typical with Ben, are beautifully clever and subtly heartbreaking, here telling the story of a failed relationship that will most certainly be staying in the past (though not without a few small undercurrents of regret). “A mattress and a stereo, just like I started,” Ben begins, “And a note composed with thumbs and phone on unpacked boxes.” By the chorus, however, he’s tossing off the lines, “And I will not forget you…there is nothing to forget. So there.” The jaunty backing by Ben on piano and yMusic on strings and woodwinds juxtaposes nicely with the biting melancholy of the words, and he and the group have a riveting instrumental break in the latter half of the song that leads wonderfully into the final verse and chorus. It’s just an exceptionally well-crafted, intoxicating mix of pop, rock, and chamber music. I really haven’t been able to get enough of it these past few days. The rest of the album is a treat as well (it includes an outstanding 3-movement piano concerto Ben composed and performed with the Nashville Symphony), and I highly recommend you check it all out.