Ben Folds

Speed Graphic

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The first in a series of three EPs released by Ben Folds in 2003 and 2004 may not be perfect, but as the typically wry lyrics found in so many of the singer/songwriter's tunes assure, little in life ever is. Still, Speed Graphic is a must-have for Folds fans for several reasons, the first being the thumping, piano-propelled cover of the Cure's 1985 classic "In Between Days." And while that reworking is both exhilarating and imaginatively arranged, the EP's manic "Dog" lacks the same magic. Sure, its observations about the 9-to-5 path chosen by many Americans is metaphorically similar to the chains our beloved pets must wear, but it pales in comparison to the disc's best moments, "Give Judy My Notice" and "Wandering." The former just may be the best ballad of Folds' career -- which explains why the songwriter gave the tune a slight reworking for 2005's Songs for Silverman album. Meanwhile the latter, another lovelorn beauty that Folds wrote with ex-Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jesse, upholds the argument that Ben is one of the finest singer/songwriters we have.

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