Currently Digging: Ben Folds – The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective

If you’ve never listened to Ben Folds, you’re deprived of one of the finest pop pianists of the past quarter century. Plain and simple. And now the Nashville songwriter has released the first thing to come close to a greatest hits (other than the energetic Ben Folds Live album). The career-spanning three disc retrospective gives you the hits, highlights, live show energy, wit and charm, and even some demos and outtakes for the hardcore Folds followers. Most of the great Ben Folds Five tracks from the 90’s are here, and the trio even reunited for three new ones, one of which is actually not too bad.

As Folds has aged from jaded college kid to sentimental father figure, his music nowadays is less observational and humorous and more….ballad-y. And the post-Rocking the Suburbs stuff really dwells on that. Still, there are gems from the past years that do not go unnoticed, like “You Don’t Know Me” and “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You.” While not exactly the best introductory course to Folds’ prolific career (the collection overall seems more for the educated and devoted), the first disc does a decent job of covering big tracks from all of Folds’ full-lengths. And if you like what you hear, I highly recommend you delve further; the man still has a remarkable sense of how to craft a memorable melody.

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