Songs for Silverman falls just short of spectacular

Ben Folds’s sophomore effort of his solo career had fans hopeful with the release of his crowd-pleasing single, “Landed.” The heartfelt and moving song enjoyed airplay this summer, but alas, a complete album one glorious song doth not make. Songs for Silverman, while on par with Folds’s work with his now-defunct band, falls short of expectations that were raised sky-high with the release of his 2001 album, Rockin’ the Suburbs. In his first foray as a solo act, Folds showed he was capable of perfection, which sharply contrasts with this CD rife with disappointing, bland filler songs.

When a listener is familiar with Folds’s usual fare of insightful lyrics, literal tracks that lack poeticism are inexcusable letdowns. Case in point: While tunes like “You To Thank” and “Sentimental Guy” sparkle with his characteristic virtuosoquality piano riffs, they can’t compare to the supreme caliber of Rockin’.

Folds does manage to redeem himself with a handful of fantastic tracks: the profound “Jesusland” unapologetically critiques the syndrome of waning individuality in small-town America, and “Bastard,” the roll, coming-of-age disc-opener. And, to his defense, all of his songs sound nice and could easily serve as soothing background noise.

But most unsatisfactory is the last track of the CD, where Folds compromises the content of the entire album by tacking on a second, strings-fortified recording of “Landed.” While gorgeous strings enrich with new ebbs and surges in song flow, this version is essentially a duplicate song that wastes play time on the album.

Most artists-scratch that, most people-experience the “sophomore slump,” when a second effort doesn’t quite measure up to past work. Hopefully, Ben Folds has already moved past his Songs for Silverman lull to keep producing the musical greatness his fans know and love.