What Matters Most
New West Records
Released in June, Ben Folds’ album What Matters Most is a roller coaster of sonic melodies with the unexpected lyrical twists and turns Folds always excels at oh, so well. His songs consistently catch me off guard, akin to being an audience member at the opera. However, they strike a chord when a line of lyrics resonates with my own experiences. It goes without saying that Ben Folds is a master at his melodic and lyrical craft, and each of these songs reaffirms that status in fresh and exciting ways.
Opening with an upbeat melodic synthesizer intro, “But Wait, There’s More” provides a warm welcome back to his music. This comes after a hiatus following the 2015 collaboration album So There with yMusic. “Back To Anonymous” dives into dealing with fame and the semi-return to a normal life, which is an unlikely scenario for someone like Ben. The album’s namesake, “What Matters Most,” is a reflective piece about loss and prioritizing what truly matters most. Its powerful lyrics include the poignant last verse: “Sorting through photos of fake smiles, And photos of real ones, Now I’ve thrown the whole lot in the bin, Just got a glimpse of what matters most.”
“I come from the vinyl era, and this perhaps more than any record I’ve made is a true album,” says Folds. “There’s a very specific sequence and arc to each side, all building up to this almost surreal positive finale, and that structure was really important to me.” He adds, “More than anything, I wanted to make an album that was generous, that was useful,” says Folds. “I want you to finish this record with something you didn’t have when you started.”
What Matters Most feels like Folds confronting the world and its numerous hardships in their diverse forms, and then putting them to rest. Ben Folds is on tour across the US until October, when he heads overseas in support of the album. The album is available at all major retailers and on your favorite streaming service.