Waking Ashland have had a flurry of releases in the past few years, with their debut EP I Am for You in 2004, their first full-length Composure in 2005, Telescopes EP in 2006, and now their sophomore LP the Well in 2007. I was a big fan of their brand of powerpop on I Am for You, and while there was a clear shift to a mellower musical style by the time Telescopes was released, the band still delivered songs that glistened with pop spirit. The Well provides more variety of sound than any of the band’s previous releases. On the whole, the Well is less reminiscent of Ben Folds than Telescopes, signifying the band has taken a step in the right creative direction, because, let’s face it, it ain’t easy to live up to comparisons drawn to one of the fathers of the piano pop-rock sub-genre. Honing a unique sound is always a step in the right creative direction.
Of course, the vocal similarities between Folds and Waking Ashland singer Jonathan Jones make it hard to avoid all comparisons, particularly on such numbers as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mark Like Mine.Ã¢â‚¬ The Ben Folds-esque song is one of the highlights of the album, which I suppose is saying the band has some heavy lifting ahead of them yet in establishing their own flavor of piano rock. On the other hand, the unexpected guitar outro on Foldsy album-opener Ã¢â‚¬Å“Salt Like JamÃ¢â‚¬ underscores the band’s creativity. Of note is the band’s experimentation with more minor tonalities; surprisingly and pleasingly, the band maintains its signature pop energy through these darker tunes. Unfortunately, despite the nice mixture of songs, they are for the most part flat and unmemorable with no lyrics nor melodies sticking with the listener, thereby failing to be a Ã¢â‚¬Å“goodÃ¢â‚¬ pop album.
1. “Salt Lake Jam” Ã¢â‚¬” 4:50
2. “Handful of Names” Ã¢â‚¬” 3:39
3. “Your Intentions” Ã¢â‚¬” 2:58
4. “Diamonds In the Hillside” Ã¢â‚¬” 3:55
5. “Change” Ã¢â‚¬” 3:11
6. “Sinking Is Swimming” Ã¢â‚¬” 2:33
7. “Mark Like Mine” Ã¢â‚¬” 4:08
8. “Let It Ring” Ã¢â‚¬” 3:30
9. “Looking Alive” Ã¢â‚¬” 3:47
10. “Drought of 2001″ Ã¢â‚¬” 3:52
11. “Money” Ã¢â‚¬” 4:02
12. “Take Me With You” Ã¢â‚¬” 2:52