If you and I have ever shared a discussion about music, then you are probably aware of my admiration of Ben Folds (or maybe you just saw the signed poster of him giving the double deuce on my bedroom wall). The man is incredibly talented, and he is constantly surprising people by doing the opposite of what everyone expects—be it ironically naming his band Ben Folds Five (despite being a trio), judging “The Sing-Off,” or covering Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”
Despite knowing about his proclivity for eccentricity, I was still worried when he announced that he would not be writing the lyrics for his latest album, Lonely Avenue. Instead, he would be putting music to poems written by Nick Hornby. High Fidelity was great and all, but I was unsure about how Hornby’s lyrics would fit with Folds’ music. Part of me worried that this album might be that bastard child that no one really likes to talk about. (I am looking at you, Weezer; Make Believe was awful.)
But, you know what, I was pleasantly surprised. The lyrics on this album felt just as personal and heartfelt as on Folds’ previous albums. There is more of a bitter sting to the songs. Not that this is anything new to Folds’ music, but it does feel like it comes from other inspirations, and I think that it has helped him to grow as a musician.
Of course, I had to buy the deluxe edition of the CD, because I am that kind of nerd. (The deluxe edition of Ben Folds’ previous album, Way To Normal, was how I obtained the aforementioned poster.) It came with a book containing four short stories by Nick Hornby. I enjoyed the book quite thoroughly, and it gave me a better appreciation of him as a writer.
As a final note, I would like Ben Folds and Nick Hornby to know one thing: Some guy on the net thinks you do not suck and he should know; he’s got his own blog.