Ben Folds, Nick Hornby ‘Lonely Avenue’ collaboration pop genius

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By Sam Bertschmann

The much-anticipated Lonely Avenue, created by the brilliant minds of songwriter and pianist Ben Folds and novelist Nick Hornby, arrived in stores last Tuesday, and the collaboration definitely lives up to the hype.

Hornby supplied the lyrics for Folds to sing and set to music, resulting in an album of pure pop genius.

Lonely Avenue is an overall fun, upbeat record with moments of genuine sincerity.

The songs range from melancholy (“Picture Window,” the story of a terminally ill child who watches fireworks from her hospital bed on New Years Eve), to witty (“Belinda,” a fictional account of a one hit wonder bound to play his chart-topping song about a former love at every show, whom he left after meeting “somebody younger on a plane”).

Hornby’s lyrics are virtually indistinguishable from Folds’ own writing.

“Levi Johnston’s Blues” is a perfect example, detailing the moment in which the young Alaskan learned he had knocked up the 2008 Vice Presidential candidate’s daughter, borrowing direct quotes from Johnston’s MySpace page for the chorus.

Hornby captures Folds’ often humorous, heartfelt tone, ever-present in previous records, quite nicely.

While showing his impeccable talents on the piano for much of the album, Folds also makes excellent use of the synthesizer (“A Working Day,” “Saskia Hamilton”), producing a very cool sound.

Folds had his biggest hit with 1997’s “Brick,” off the album Whatever and Ever, Amen with former band mates Robert Sledge and Darren Jesse of Ben Folds Five.

Hornby is best known for his 1995 novel High Fidelity, which was later made into a movie starring John Cusack.

This album is truly spectacular and makes a great addition to any music lover’s collection.

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