Currently Digging: Ben Folds & Nick Hornby

Since his breakthrough in the early 90’s with the Five, Ben Folds has made his trademark piano pop and lyrical witticism known.  Combining parts snark, smart-assery, and sentiment, Folds’ quirk has been adored by millions for years.  Lyrically, you could probably aptly compare hm to a groundbreaking, clever, honest film/novel like, say…..High Fidelity.

How appropriate then, that the creator of that aforementioned work would be a Ben Folds fan, and that this pairing would grow into a long-lasting friendship which has blossomed into a collaborative musical effort.  And indeed, the team of Nick Hornby/Ben Folds is a perfect match on Lonely Avenue.  With the author at the lyrical helm, Folds is free to focus on the score, and the results are the freshest he’s sounded in a while.

The lyrics, unsurprisingly, feel like Folds tunes, mixing up cynicism with pathos, practicality with sympathy.  “Levi Johnston’s Blues” is an earnest look into Bristol Palin’s baby dadddy, with no sarcasm attached.  “Belinda” is a sad tale of a one-hit wonder who clings to his past fame and the sweetheart that inspired it.  “Claire’s Ninth” is a frank look at how a young girl deals with divorce on her birthday.

Hornby’s words are strong, and they fit perfectly with Folds’ keen approach to melody, and because of this solid teaming, the pianist has delivered his finest album since Rockin’ the Suburbs.  With an outing this impressive the first time around, how could you not root for a sequel?

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Levi Johnston’s Blues

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Picture Window

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Belinda

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