Ben Folds will release his new album What Matters Most on June 2 via New West Records. The 10-song set was co-produced by Folds and Joe Pisapia (K.D. Lang, Guster) in East Nashville, TN and features guest appearances by dodie, Tall Heights, and Ruby Amanfu. What Matters Most is Folds’ first studio album since his chart-topping collaboration in 2015 with the string ensemble Music. The masterful collection is a bold, timely, cinematic work. It is one that examines the tragic and the absurd in equal measures as it reckons with hope and despair, gratitude and loss, identity and perspective. The songs are bittersweet, hilarious at times, yet often laced with a quiet sense of longing and dread. Taken as a whole, the result is an undeniably joyful album that refuses to succumb to the weight of the world around it, an ecstatic reminder of all the beauty and promise hiding in plain sight for anyone willing (and present enough) to recognize their moments as they arrive. Folds says, “There’s a lifetime of craft and experience all focused into this one record. Sonically, lyrically, emotionally, I don’t think it’s an album I could have made at any other point in my career.”
Today Folds shares the first new music from What Matters Most with the album highlight “Winslow Gardens,” an off-kilter pop song about losing track of the passing time while isolating with a loved one.
“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.”
Ben Folds’ also announced an initial round of new tour dates in support of What Matters Most with shows across the US and UK – including a concert in Huber Heights, OH at Rose Music Center on Saturday, June 17.
Tickets will go on sale to the public beginning at 10am on Friday, February 17 at Ticketmaster.com and RoseMusicCenter.com.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Folds first rose to fame in the mid-’90s with Ben Folds Five, whose acerbic, genre-bending take on piano pop helped define an entire era of alternative rock. After scoring multiple hit singles and a gold record with the band, Folds launched his solo career in 2001, releasing a series of similarly acclaimed albums that would firmly establish him as one of the most ambitious and versatile songwriters of his generation. In 2010, Folds teamed up with celebrated author Nick Hornby on a collaborative record titled Lonely Avenue. In 2014, he composed and performed his first piano concerto for the Nashville Symphony & Nashville Ballet. In 2017, he became the artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, where he began curating a series of performances marrying contemporary artists with symphonic orchestration. In 2019, he released his New York Times best-selling memoir, A Dream About Lightning Bugs; and in 2021, he launched the Lightning Bugs podcast, an interview series on creativity and process with guests as diverse as Jon Batiste, Sara Bareilles, and Rainn Wilson, and his close friend Bob Saget. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Folds also revealed himself to be a prolific photographer with gallery shows in the US and Europe, appeared onscreen in films and television (most recently playing himself in three episodes of the hit Amazon Prime series The Wilds), composed music for a 25-minute stage adaptation of Mo Willem’s Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (which premiered at the Kennedy Center and was featured on PBS), and serves on the boards of the Arts Action Fund, the Nashville Symphony and Planet Word, a new immersive museum in Washington, DC, dedicated to celebrating the power of language. Last year, Folds was nominated for an Emmy for his composition and performance of the theme song to the Apple TV special It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown.
“It can be difficult jumping back and forth from one discipline to another,” says Folds, “but you learn so much from moving between worlds and collaborating with so many different kinds of artists. I performed some of the songs on this record with the National Symphony Orchestra before I finished recording them for the album, and that context gave me so much insight into how I wanted to handle them in the studio.”
Ben Folds’ What Matters Most will be available across digital platforms, compact disc, and standard black vinyl. A very limited to 200 Color Vinyl Edition autographed by Folds and featuring a flexi disc with an exclusive bonus track (a cover of the Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You”) will be available via Rough Trade. A limited compact disc edition autographed by Folds and featuring three bonus tracks from a live performance at the Kennedy Center as well as a limited color vinyl edition autographed by Folds will be available at independent retailers.
Both limited compact disc and vinyl editions are available for pre-order NOW via NEW WEST RECORDS.
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