Album Review: Ben Folds / Nick Hornby –

Lonely Avenue is the latest album from Folds, thanks to the lyrics of Nick Hornby. Folds and Hornby collaborated to come up with 11 songs and four short stories, with words by Nick and music by Ben — Hornby and Folds, respectively.

People usually cite Nick Hornby for his book slash movie About a Boy, though I’m going to go ahead and mention my favorite Hornby work, The Polysyllabic Spree, a collection of essays from his “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column printed in “the Believer”. Nick is a good writer, good like really good and stuff soforth. Hold Nick Hornby in column A.

People usually cite Ben Folds for his piano rock, though the piano ballad Brick certainly gets its more than fair share of attention, with many people unaware that it’s not about what you probably think it’s about. I would like to suggest that the finest Folds work — in my humble opinion — is The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messnerr, an album that hooks into me like no other. And I’m not alone; over 1 people have given it a favorable review on Amazon. We should form a support group. Hold Ben Folds in column B.

What happens when a brilliant writer gets into a creative dust-up with a brilliant musician? I give you Lonely Avenue, with the tagline Ben Folds Adds Music And Melody to Nick Hornby’s Words. I can say this: it most certainly delivers what it promises.

A word of caution: it’s not music for the little ones. Folds already likes to say surprisingly non-ballad words during ballads, and Hornby only adds to the fire. This is my only disappointment with the album. Nevertheless, the musicianship and lyrical content are pretty good. If you read the accompanying hard cover book, which explains the etymology of each song and, ultimately, helps you get into their heads, the album goes from pretty good to great.

For Folds fans, it’s still Ben, but with a twist, not unlike when I dress up. It’s still Adam, he’s just wearing a suit from JC Penney’s. For Hornby fans, it’s Nick, only with a repetitious chorus motif that he doesn’t normally do in his books. Everyone is as you remember them, it’s just that this time they’re riding in the same car.

If you’re a fan of Ben Folds or Nick Hornby, you’ll gladly add this to your collection. If you have yet to be introduced to either, then don’t start here. Start earlier with the stuff I mentioned above.

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