Hotel Lights – Girl Graffiti

January 01, 1970



When Ben Folds Five split, the media spotlight followed its
namesake on his solo journey, relegating drummer Darren Jessee and bassist
Robert Sledge, the other two members of the band, to the shadows. A shame,
that, especially after hearing Girl
, the fourth disk from Jessee’s Hotel Lights.


Trading his spot behind a lead singer’s ass for a position
in front of the microphone, guitar in hand, Jessee essays his own version of
friendly, melodic indie pop. In collaboration with guitarist Alan Weatherhead
and Tift Merritt’s rhythm section, Jessee’s songs hit a similar balance as his
old employer’s, tugging at the heartstrings and tickling the funnybone at the
same time. Granted, Jessee’s not as clever (some might say hamfisted) about it,
and with a ballad-heavy setlist some of his melodies tend to drift off into the
mist. But Jessee hits the mark more often than not – cf. the snarky yet
affectionate “My Pretty Quirk,” the pained anthem “Falling Down” or the
gorgeous “Through the Crowd” and “Super 8MM.” Hotel Jessee hits that sweet spot
perfectly with “Dave Sharkey to the Dance Floor,” which may smirk in its title
but sighs in its delivery. Folds may get all the glory now, but Girl Graffiti indicates how unfair that
truly is.


Sharkey to the Dance Floor,” “Through the Crowd,” “My Pretty Quirk” MICHAEL

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