Ben Folds To Release “What Matters Most” June 2 Via New West Records


Photograph By Alysse Gafkjen

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 yMusic.

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, the UK – including a concert at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London – and throughout Europe. Please see announced dates below as well as Additional shows are expected to be announced soon.

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, 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 Award 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 Metallic Gold 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 Seaglass Blue color vinyl edition autographed by Folds will be available at independent retailers and is also available for pre-order NOW via NEW WEST RECORDS.

Ben Folds On Tour:

March 24 – Eau Claire, WI – The Pablo Center at The Confluence
March 25 – Viroqua, WI – The Historic Temple Theatre
March 26 – Dubuque, IA – Five Flags Theatre
March 28 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Clyde Theatre
March 29 – Urbana, IL – Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
April 21 – Tallahassee, FL – Capital City Amphitheatre *
April 23 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Symphony Hall *
April 25 – Cincinnati, OH – Cincinnati Music Hall *
April 26 – Knoxville, TN – Tennessee Theatre
April 28 – Greensboro, NC – Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts *
April 29 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre
April 30 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Gaillard Center
May 30 – Chicago, IL – Orchestra Hall*
June 13 – New London, CT – Garde Arts Center
June 14 – Lowell, MA – Memorial Auditorium
June 16 – Lewiston, NY – ARTPARK Mainstage Theater
June 17 – Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center
June 18 – Louisville, KY – Palace Theatre
June 20 – Wilmington, DE – The Grand Opera House
June 22 – New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
June 23 – Greensburg, PA – Palace Theatre
June 24 – Indianapolis, IN – Rock the Ruins at Holiday Park
June 25 – Detroit, MI – Motor City Casino
June 27 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
June 28 – St. Louis, MO – Stifel Theatre
June 30 – Onamia, MN – Grand Casino Mille Lacs
July 1 – Fargo, ND – Outdoors at Fargo Brewing
July 22 – Columbus, OH – Bicentennial Stage at the Columbus Commons *
August 2 – Bonner, MT – KettleHouse Amphitheatre *
August 4 – Park City, Utah – TBA *
August 8 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater
August 9 – Cedar Rapids, IA – McGrath Amphitheatre
August 10 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
August 11 – Salina, KS – The Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts
August 13 – Arvada, CO – TBA
August 15 – Mesa, AZ – Mesa Arts Center
August 16 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
August 17 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theater
August 19 – Eugene, OR – Cuthbert Amphitheater
August 20 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre
October 6 & 7 – Minneapolis, MN – Orchestra Hall *
October 20 & 21 – Dallas, TX – Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center *
November 8 – Bath, United Kingdom – The Forum
November 9 – Brighton, United Kingdom – Brighton Dome
November 10 – Birmingham, United Kingdom – Symphony Hall
November 12 – Oxford, United Kingdom – New Theatre
November 13 – London, United Kingdom – Royal Albert Hall
November 15 – Gateshead, United Kingdom – Sage Gateshead
November 16 – York, United Kingdom – Grand Opera House
November 17 – Manchester, United Kingdom – O2 Apollo
November 18 – Edinburgh, United Kingdom – Usher Hall
November 20 – Dublin, Ireland – The Helix
November 23 – Zurich, Switzerland – Kaufleuten
November 25 – Berlin, Germany – Admiralspalast
November 26 – Wiesbaden, Germany – Kurhaus
November 27 – Utrecht, Netherlands – TrivoliVredenburg – Grote Zaal
November 30 – Paris, France – La Cigale
December 1 – Antwerp, Belgium – De Roma
December 2 – Dudelange, Luxembourg – Opderschmelz
December 4 – Essen, Germany – Lichtburg

* Orchestra dates