Ben Folds is the music man that can’t be stopped. After forming Ben Folds Five over 20 years ago, he’s gone on to pursue a solo career, score film soundtracks, and collaborate with some of the best and brightest. Now he’s redefining his game by teaming up with the remarkably talented string group yMusic for a new album of hits, starting with the equally lovely and comical “Phone In A Pool”.
“Take it easy, take it slow,” Folds says at the beginning, giving fair warning before failing to take his own voice. He’s thrown his phone in the pool in New Orleans and now he can’t call the girl of his dreams until several weeks later.
Now that Ben Folds has teamed up with yMusic, there’s way more possibility. Piano-heavy melodies are stripped away. Now, don’t fear; there’s still piano from start to finish. This time it steps out of the spotlight. Guitar whines in a short two-second slide, but when it reappears later, it sounds like less of a cheeky wink and more of a I-cant-get-this-out-of-my-head miniature hook. It’s a beautiful combination of Folds’ vocals, piano, and soft strings in the background before deep cello pulls along beside them. There’s still the whizzing playfulness of Ben Folds Five.
Halfway through, warm trumpet appears briefly in the song’s breakdown moment, but instead of dramatic melodies, it opts for beauty. Things escalate the way he does best, swirling like the splash of his phone in the pool before the tiny notes of someone hitting the xylophone can be heard. If we didn’t know better, we would think Ben Folds got all softie on us, but it’s still the goofball we love lyrically. In fact, he’s only gotten better.
Give it a listen here.