February 16, 2004 12:00 PM

Five for Fighting



After delivering a pop knockout with the 2001 hit single “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” Five for Fighting packs plenty of punch on its third album. Five, essentially the one-man show of singer-songwriter John Ondrasik, produces a grown-up work rich in melody, lyrical depth and solid musicianship. Take the first single, “100 Years.” It’s a poignant piano-based tune that traces the course of an ordinary man’s life over four minutes, capturing how time passes “when you only got 100 years to live.” The song’s well-crafted message won’t be lost on listeners from 15 to 99. On another of the disc’s highlights, the wistful ballad “Dying,” Ondrasik, with an aching voice reminiscent of Dave Matthews, confesses, “I’m dying to live without you again.” He also displays a sardonic wit on the lilting “Disneyland,” singing, “I don’t know and I don’t care that it’s a small world.” The no-frills production and acoustic-centered accompaniment keep the focus squarely on Ondrasik, where it belongs.

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