Turn to Webster's Dictionary and you'll find that "ripe" has a number of definitions, most of which revolve around the concept of being ready for use: "brought to perfection or the best state; completely matured."
No surprise, then, that Ben Lee has named his sixth album Ripe. Having spent fully half of his 28 years crafting some of the catchiest tunes to be heard at discriminating radio everywhere, Lee is now poised to reap the same kind of mass appeal that he's already established in his native Australia - where he's taken home four ARIA Awards (Australia's version of the Grammys).
Ripe also benefits from guest appearances by members of pop band Rooney on "American Television," "Birds And Bees," and "Is This How Love's Supposed To Feel?" and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte on "Sex Without Love". Both bands have long been "good mates" of the melodious master.
Even for an industry that sometimes cherishes youth above all else, Lee's career is something of a surprise: the singer/songwriter headed the well-regarded teen-pop act Noise Addict when he was 14, drawing the attention of such well-respected names as Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and the Beastie Boys' Mike D., who released Lee's first two solo albums on their Grand Royal label.
"It was a slow and steady, but ridiculously early start," Lee laughs. "But overall I'd say it gave me an advantage. I've learned what to do, and what not to do. Ben Folds said I have the best of both worlds: I'm a veteran and a late bloomer at the same time!"
Lee's first New West/Inertia release, 2005's Awake is the New Sleep, was the one to put him over the top: that was the album that won him the four ARIAs and contained the worldwide smash "Catch My Disease," as heard on everything from TV shows Grey's Anatomy and Hidden Palms to a massive Dell computer TV ad campaign.
Lee is also readying himself for the completion of Ben Lee: Catch My Disease, a seven-years-in-the-making documentary by his friend Amiel Courtin-Wilson, "who's interviewed everyone I've ever known, played with, and slept with," he laughs. "It's quite jarring to let someone in like that, but the results should be pretty interesting."
Now based in Los Angeles, Lee still maintains an ever-widening group of friends and fans around the globe, a sure testament to the universal appeal of his music.