I must admit that I have a great fondness for the music of Five For Fighting. Suffice it to say that I own most of the project’s albums, although I bought most of them before I reviewed everything and they are in Florida so there is little chance I will be reviewing them here anytime soon. Although I found some of the hit singles from John Ondrasik, like his breakthrough hit “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” a bit unpleasant to handle on constant overplay, the combination of heartfelt sentiment and some real grit and roughness to his approach certainly won me over as a fan overall. And this album was really after the hits stopped coming except on Adult Top 40, which is a shame as I found this album to be deeply enjoyable once I gave it a listen. This is a case where there is a lot more than meets the eye about the singer’s career and music , and this is an album worth treasuring and appreciating. Here is a track by track review:
Slice: The title track of the album and the second single, this song finds the author in somewhat of a nostalgic mood, seeking to promote a feeling of acceptance of the diversity of life in America, and an appreciation of others as having stories and lives worth accepting, making this a worthy beginning to a slice of life album.
Note To An Unknown Soldier: This driving piano ballad combines a sense of honor for a fallen soldier with a melancholy reflection of the loss that comes from dying in a war far from home. This is the sort of song that manages to honor people while reflecting at the same time on the cost of conflict on decent lives.
Tuesday: A dark and melancholy ode to September 11, 2001, this song dwells on the darkness of memory and the moment when Five For Fighting rose to popularity as a singer who could voice the sense of loss for a nation facing vulnerability. This is the sort of song that could have easily been a hit in kinder days to the artist and has a haunting feeling that stays with you.
Chances: The first single from the album, this straightforward love song was only a hit on Adult Top 40, but all the same it is a lovely song about the role of chance in love. Like the best of the singer’s songs, this shows a realism about one’s anxiety about possibilities of loss and the desire to rise above such things.
This Dance: This song is a cute piano ballad that seems to point to the shyness of asking someone to dance and hoping for the start of a relationship. The song is the sort that I could easily imagine being played at a church dance if the people liked Five For Fighting, as the lyrics are clear and the melody and sentiment are definitely winning.
Above The Timberline: A truly amazing song about mysticism and the desire to escape the rush of contemporary life by hiking in the mountains and breathing the fresh air, this is precisely the sort of reflective material that makes late-period Five For Fighting a joy to listen to for reflective audiences. The soaring chorus and jazzy bridge are definitely a highlight.
Transfer: This song is a deeply touching and bittersweet song about communication and transportation and the loneliness of life and the desire to find love in the midst of life’s business and unhappiness. This is a song that is certainly easy to appreciate and has the world-weariness of someone who has lived a long life full of longing.
Hope: This song has an upbeat melody that disguises somewhat grimly realistic lyrics about the way that people hope against hope for love in life and how we disguise our feelings of despair with the hope that things will get better. This song almost has a country rock feel to it, and certainly is more evidence of the singer’s life experience at this point of his career.
Story Of Your Life: This song is like the darker and older cousin of 100 years, where Five For Fighting sings the song of a life that so many life, the youthful dreams of success and the heartbreak and hope that things will get better in the future. This song is inspirational but clear eyed about the inevitable difficulties of life.
Love Can’t Change The Weather: This song is a mature and reflective ode to the way that love is multifaceted, balancing the happier aspects with the more melancholy aspects of love that has died and grown cold and is no longer able to warm our lives. This is yet another song that could have easily been a hit song with some stellar horn parts and some really thoughtful lyrics.
Augie Nieto: The album ends with a song that captures the sense of loss but honor for decency that marks so much of Five For Fighting’s work. The titular figure of the song was someone who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and decided to start an organization to help kids. Unsurprisingly, when Five For Fighting heard about it, he honored Augie in a touching song.
 See, for example: