Another brilliant, disconcerting album from Lee Feldman. . . . This is a return to original songcraft, and it stands with the best Feldman has ever done, which is saying a lot.NY Music Daily
…a manifesto for Feldman’s recording career, which has found him restlessly deconstructing and reassembling pop music’s tired machinery with a hobbyist’s enthusiasm and genius skill. . . . It can be mildly disorienting, as on the woozily hypnotic “Empty Room,” or subversive, as on “Hamfest,” or simply heartbreaking. It all depends where Feldman wants to take you.Popdose
Lee Feldman uses a Tin Pan Alley bounce to make twist or troubled situations sound like parlor songs.Jon Pareles, The New York Times
Chances are his finely tuned records will continue to be discovered by discerning listeners years down the road.Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
Reviving a bit of Brill Building artistry, this New York piano man makes you think and swoon and hum all at once.Carrie Havranek, The Village Voice
Lee Feldman plays the piano in just the dry, subtle, understated manner that his dry, subtle, understatedly hilarious songs call for.Charles Young, The Atlantic Monthly
Lee Feldman brings to mind the classic early work of Randy Newman both in terms of timeless songcrafting and ambitious arranging. the often haunting ‘Living It All Wrong’ gets most everything right.David Wild, Rolling Stone
Feldman’s poignant and occasionally disquieting vignettes mine complex truths, finding romance and heartbreak in the mundane details and rituals of daily life… a winner in any year.Time Out New York
Keep in mind how long it took for people to figure out the greatness of Tom Waits and Randy Newman, and keep your eye on Lee.CMJ Online
He delicately blends jazz, classical and ragtime touches into beautifully crafted pop songs that are the work of an original.Dirty Linen
Lee Feldman may be one of the best songwriters you never heard of. His tunes have a simplicity and beauty that can only come from compositional maturity and confidence garnered from years of experience.Keyboard Online
Lee Feldman juxtaposes brazenly innocent vocals with lush Parks/Waronker style textures. His piano-playing, meanwhile, combines elements of Chopin and Fats Domino. Needless to say, it sounds pretty different from anything anybody else is doing these days.Dawn Eden, New York Press
From Art Dudley’s “Listening” column in Stereophile #45:
…Then there’s Lee Feldman, a classically trained pop musician who brings a strong if decidedly off-center sense of melody to the art of traditional American songwriting, and whose lyrics betray a poetic sensibility in tune with the best of the 20th-century Americans (especially Theodore Roethke, whose “My Papa’s Waltz” could easily hide on one of Feldman’s albums). All of which is to say that Lee Feldman is unclassifiable.
Michael Fremer turned me on to Feldman’s music when he wrote about it for Listener back in the early days of 2001, and my fondness for the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has since grown steadily. His third album, I’ve Forgotten Everything (Urban Myth UM-114-2), has just been released, and it’s already an indispensable part of my pop-music collection. Almost half of the album’s songs discuss aging or abandonment-not in a maudlin or self-pitying way, but impressionistically, with carefully chosen images and scraps of monologue. In “Me and My Sara Remaining,” an elderly man talks about his changing neighborhood with a mixture of fear and resignation; in his plaintive, unaffected style, Feldman sings the opening line- “And all of the places are changing” -against a continually changing string of chords that never quite resolve, yet that support a strangely sad melody. And in “Give Me My Money,” the album’s thematic center, the narrator focuses his motley thoughts just long enough to express his frustration as something tangible:
Give me my money
I’m a human being
I used to write music that people could sing
Give me my footsteps
Where did they go?
I wish I had known that I needed them so
Some of the tunes on I’ve Forgotten Everything meander in a happy, childlike way – such as the upbeat “Big Women on the Shelves,” the album’s happiest and most triumphant moment. Others are more serious-minded, such as the stark setting for a creepy-funny lyric titled “Cave.” That one opens with a solo trumpet playing a series of descending intervals, then switches to an ascending series of mildly dissonant chords led by a solo cello: It’s almost Schmidt’s Symphony 4 in miniature. The simplest melody of all is reserved for the closing number, “See You Again” -yet even then, the leitmotif of aging returns, as the final lines are sung by the Northside Senior Center Chorus. From Brooklyn, of course.
Lee Feldman’s I’ve Forgotten Everything is unlike anything else in contemporary pop. The songs are alternately sad, whimsical, harrowing, and very funny (although the album’s best laugh may be the visual joke on the disc itself). A third of the tunes are waltzes, and all of the melodies are catchy and challenging in more or less equal measure. Above all, the writing voice behind it all is kind, humane, and clever without being too clever: There’s nothing arch about Feldman’s music.
Every one of these songs is like a smile you can’t read, yet that pulls you along in spite of yourself. Lee Feldman is one of the few musicians in contemporary pop whom I think of as an artist, and I’ve Forgotten Everything is far and away his best work so far. If you have a passion for good songwriting, you need this album.