Take Ben Folds, the singer-songwriter whose albums have generated countless Billboard hits. Then add Nick Hornby, the author whose popular novels Fever Pitch and High Fidelity inspired successful films. While songwriter and book writer may seem an unlikely duo, Folds and Hornby have combined talents to produce a creative and powerful record, “Lonely Avenue.”
In 1997, Hornby wrote a glowing article on Folds’ hit “Smoke,” calling the track “lyrically perfect.” Since then, the two maintained a close friendship and recently decided to co-write a CD. “Lonely Avenue,” released Sept. 28, is a original and inspiring record full of catchy hits.
The album’s themes of fearfulness and despondency are particularly stirring, surpassing Folds’ past poignant music. The closing track on the album, “Belinda,” is one of the most moving numbers, featuring mournfully soft piano chords and lyrics that detail an aging rocker losing his love.
The pair continues the theme on their emotional vignette, “Picture Window,” the story of a visit to a dying friend. In “Claire’s Ninth,” Folds and Hornby explore loneliness in an ironically upbeat track about a divorce ruining a girl’s birthday. Both tracks are acoustic ballads that showcase Folds’ wide vocal range.
The most creative track on the album is “Levi Johnson’s Blues,” an original and raunchy perspective on Johnson’s rise to infamy. The bluesy chord patterns highlight Johnson’s angry redneck quality.
Despite the unlikely pairing of a pop musician and a novelist, Ben Folds and Nick Hornby’s “Lonely Avenue” is a creative and original album. The neurotic messages and emotional themes make this album especially moving.