Before releasing last year’s subdued, mature Songs for Silverman, Folds dropped a live album and a slew of relatively obscure e.p.’s. Supersunnyspeedgraphic collects his hard-to-find work and amazingly seems somewhat cohesive. When it comes to taking another artist’s song and turning it on its head, Folds is a master. His version of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” makes you wonder how the two gangstas could have rapped some of their lyrics with a straight face. On the other hand, Folds transcends the poignancy in Divine Comedy’s “Songs of Love.” (Missing, however, is Folds’ take on the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” a fan favorite.)
Some of the singer-songwriter’s lesser-known originals act as nice companion pieces to his popular tunes. The current live staple “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You” joins a host of Folds gems about balancing reality with self-esteem, all in good fun, of course. Also included is “Bruised,” just a taste of the collaboration between Folds and two fellow tourmates, the Bens — Kweller and Lee — protégés of the elder statesman of emotional and funny power pop. Supersunnyspeedgraphic will renew faith in the aging singer’s creativity, but it will ultimately generate a longing for the piano man’s next concerted studio effort.