Artist matures in life, album

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    Ben Folds is growing up, sort of.Since his days with the three-man Ben Folds Five, Folds married, had two children, took up photography as a hobby and released two rather mature solo albums.

    Folds’ latest record, “Songs For Silverman,” finds the 39-year-old ivory-tickler much more selfless and composed than on past records.

    At the album’s release, Folds said in interviews he wanted to make his “grow a beard, lock myself in the studio and play for a couple weeks album.”

    “Silverman” features tributes to his daughter on “Gracie,” and the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith on “Late.” Elsewhere on the album, Folds ruminates on marriage, conservative politics and growing older.

    None of that, however, has stopped him from delivering the live energy that made Ben Folds Five one of the more popular concert draws of the ’90s.

    On his most recent tour, Folds has recaptured some of that old energy. Unlike his last tour, Folds has brought along a touring band, consisting of bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson, and has infused new life into classics such as “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” and “Best Imitation of Myself.”

    While die-hard Five fans may mourn the loss of bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee, Reynolds and Jamieson’s work on “Silverman” provided a new creative energy for Folds, who has admitted being bored with solo performing.

    Folds hasn’t abandoned the man-and-a-piano format either.

    Classics like “Brick” and “Fred Jones Part Two” receive the solo treatment, and he’s still using the crowd to fill in the horn section on “Army.”

    While Folds seems to be growing up in studio, he’s still fighting age on stage, much to the delight of his fans.

    Folds will roll into Texas on Saturday with a show at Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie. The show starts at 8 p.m. when opening act The Fray takes the stage.