Five For Fighting, "Slice"
Five for Fighting mastermind John Ondrasik's '70s musical influences are palpable on the act's fifth release, "Slice." The piano lines on "Hope" recall "Desperado," while "This Dance" sounds like Don McLean creating a mash-up of "Lean on Me" and "Killing Me Softly." But "Slice" isn't completely retro. "Transfer" is a wonderfully complex track with Ben Folds-like harmonies, while the first single, "Chances," soars like early material by Gavin DeGraw. And Ondrasik's themes are particularly strong. The wistful title track addresses how the Internet has fragmented popular culture, while the uplifting ballad "Augie Nieto" centers on the fitness icon's public battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Although Ondrasik references memories more than he shares them, fans of Five for Fighting will be satisfied by this set. --Benjamin Sheehan