Singer-songwriter Ben Folds has teamed up with the yMusic ensemble, a group of six instrumental musicians from New York City, to produce his latest work So There, a collection of eight chamber pop songs and a three-part piano concerto performed with Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
The result is nothing shy of “ear candy.” Folds’ magnetic style of performance blends seamlessly with the classical chamber sound of the yMusic ensemble.
“I was looking for a way to frame the new songs I was writing to fit with the three movement piano and orchestra concerto I would feature,” Folds told NPR via email. “With [the song] ‘Capable of Anything,’ yMusic—a classical secret from NYC—and I cracked the code that would enable us to perform an upbeat pop song with no bass and classical instruments.”
“Capable of Anything,” is a soft yet uplifting tune to start off the album. Right away, you notice how the addition of background vocals, flutes and drums, really accentuate Folds’ usual power pop style.
Predictably, the first single off of the album is “Phone in a Pool,” a satirical song based on a true story. According to the Wall Street Journal, Folds came up with the song after he literally threw his phone into a pool.
“I was sick of being tethered to it and feeling guilty for not answering people while I had been on stage,” Folds told WSJ via email. “Realized that was silly and impulsively tossed it.” According to Folds, he was turning to leave when all of a sudden pop musician Kesha jumped into the pool with her clothes on to fish it out.
Although Folds literally threw his phone into a hotel swimming pool, the song is very relatable and provides brilliant commentary on how frustrating the stresses of life in the digital age affect our lives. At one point in the song, he even asks the audience, “can’t you people function for a little while? Without it bouncing of your satellite for a little while.”
Folds briefly attended the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music on a percussion scholarship, but allegedly lost it after breaking his hand. Although he dropped out, his classical training had an impact on him as a musician.
Over the years, Folds has collaborated with numerous musicians and orchestras from across the globe, including the Boston Pops Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, among others.
To end the album, Folds enlisted the help of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra to accompany him on his three-part “Concerto for Piano & Orchestra.” Led by conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, the entirely instrumental composition is a true testament to Folds’ depth as a musician.
Produced by New West Records, the new album from Ben Folds and the yMusic Ensemble, So There, will be available to download on iTunes and Amazon on Sept. 11. Also, be sure to catch Ben Folds and the yMusic ensemble on tour:
Sept. 12 @ Live on the Green! in Nashville, TN (FREE)
Sept. 14 @ The Moore in Seattle, WA
Sept. 15 @ Roseland Theater in Portland, OR
Sept. 16 @ The Warfield in San Francisco, CA
Nov. 1 @ The Paramount in Huntington, NY (with Dotan)
Nov. 3 @ Belk Theatre in Charlotte, NC (with Dotan)
Nov. 4 @ Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, TN (with Dotan)
Nov. 5 @ The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA (with Dotan)
Nov. 6 @ Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga, TN (with Dotan)
Nov. 7 @ Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in Wilmington, NC (with Dotan)
Nov. 9 @ Charleston Music Hall in Charleston, SC (with Dotan)
Nov. 11 @ Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, AL (with Dotan)
Nov. 12 @ Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, OH (with Dotan)
Nov. 13 @ Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY (with Dotan)
Nov. 14 @ Lifestyles Community Pavilion in Columbus, OH (with Dotan)
Nov. 16 @ Murat Theatre at Old National Centre in Indianapolis, IN (with Dotan)
Nov. 17 @ The Pageant in St. Louis, MO (with Dotan)
Nov. 18 @ Uptown Theater in Kansas City, MO (with Dotan)