Slice | Five For Fighting
After the success of the hit singles “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “100 Years,” Five for Fighting (John Ondrasik’s solo project) dropped off the popular music radar. The 2006 release of “Two Lights” was met without fanfare; with the exception of “The Riddle,” the album went unnoticed by all—excluding the most die-hard fans. “Slice,” Five for Fighting’s most recent album, released Tuesday, Oct. 13, perfectly represents Ondrasik’s career: Soft piano-driven rock dominates the record, complete with whiny vocals. In other words, it sounds the same as everything he’s ever released.
The album kicks off with the titular track, “Slice.” Referencing Don McLean’s well-known song, “American Pie,” Ondrasik sounds fake and hollow. Almost exactly like “The Riddle,” Ondrasik appears to have failed to mature in the past three years since its release.
The second track, “Note to the Unknown Soldier,” would fit perfectly in any of the albums Ondrasik, The Fray or any other soft rock band has released in the past 10 years. Singing about the past, Ondrasik falls short of ingenuity, instead coming up with something vaguely reminiscent of a weak Disney song.
Ondrasik’s voice dominates “This Dance,” backed by only a sparse piano and the occasional quiet chimes. The style is almost a carbon copy of Elton John. But, as we all know, only Elton John can pull off Elton John. Ondrasik only manages a pale imitation.
Continuing through the album, there is not much differentiation between tracks. In fact, I became confused at several points as to when songs started and ended.
“Hope” actually represents a departure from the rest of the album. Opening with a ditty evocative of a drinking song, the song quickly morphs into a country ballad.
The penultimate track on the album, “Love Can’t Change the Weather,” crashes and burns. Sounding like the final number of a B-list Vegas musical, Ondrasik takes meaninglessness to new highs. Love can’t change the weather? Really? What does that even mean?
The final track, “Augie Nieto,” returns to the Disney theme. Reminiscent of both “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” Ondrasik appears to be trying to mewl his way into the spotlight again. An unremarkable ending to an unremarkable album.
Bottom line: If you’ve heard anything by Five for Fighting, The Fray or a plethora of other artists, skip it. Pick up something that better represents this genre.
For fans of: The Fray, Aqualung, Jack’s Mannequin
Tracks to download: ‘Slice’, ‘Story Of Your Life’