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Lonely Avenue CD


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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Sept. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B003SS9DPY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,430 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. A Working Day
2. Picture Window
3. Levi Johnston's Blues
4. Doc Pomus
5. Your Dogs
6. Practical Amanda
7. Claire's Ninth
8. Password
9. From Above
10. Saskia Hamilton
11. Belinda

Product Description

CD Description

Lonely Avenue is a collaboration between Ben Folds and music-obsessed novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, 31 Songs). Hornby provided the lyrics for 11 songs, which Folds then set to music and recorded in his Nashville studio. Joining Folds in the studio at various points were his own band, a string section, and legendary arranger Paul Buckmaster.

Lonely Avenue offers equal measures of humour and pathos in often deceptively cheerful songs. Folds gives voice to Hornby's endearingly mixed up, lovelorn characters, who come across as sympathetic even at their most hapless. An aging pop singer has to endlessly and agonizingly reprise his one hit, a paean to a woman he left years ago, to the fans who still attend his shows ("Belinda"). A mother deliberately avoids a stunning view of New Years Eve fireworks as she ministers to her seriously ill child in a London hospital ("Picture Window"). Hornby reconstructs the world of crippled, Brill Building-era songwriter Doc Pomus circa 1962 ("Doc Pomus"), and imagines, with unexpected tenderness, the moment when Alaskan teenager Levi Johnston discovered he'd impregnated the newly announced vice-presidential candidate's daughter, Bristol Palin ("Levi Johnston's Blues").

BBC Review

In his 2002 book 31 Songs, a semi-autobiography testified through the prism his record collection, Nick Hornby remarked that he writes books because he can’t write songs. Lonely Avenue tests this characteristic self-deprecation, Hornby providing lyrics for music by Ben Folds (a Folds tune, Smoke, was among Hornby’s 31).

Hornby is running at a high bar – since emerging in the mid-90s, Folds has been a consistently enthralling songwriter. Consciously or not, it’s perhaps for this reason that Hornby – no stranger, as a novelist, to narrating from third-person viewpoints – writes uncannily like Folds. Had Hornby’s participation not been advertised, it’s unlikely anyone would have suspected the hand of a collaborator. The scenarios are Folds’ familiar palette of wry character sketches and sharply observed domestic dramas, and the vernacular is deliberately American English.

Lonely Avenue is not an unalloyed triumph. Obvious talking point Levi Johnston’s Blues, a semi-Springstonian lament from the perspective of the father of Sarah Palin’s grandchild, bristling against the shotgun in the back of his wedding tux – The River reset in Wasilla – rings hollow, and Folds somewhat overdoes the bombast. The Hold Steady-ish Your Dogs, all wo-ah choruses and fidgety electric keys, also overcooks itself.

The more restrained moments, however, are gorgeous. Belinda is a sumptuous ballad with a beautifully observed lyric, about a one-hit-wonder artist who cruelly ditched the woman he wrote his one hit about, but is stuck singing sentiments to which he no longer subscribes. The joyously rueful shuffle From Above is clearly intended as a companion to Tom Waits’ immortal ships-that-passed lament Martha, sympathising with the equally thwarted people with whom Waits’ protagonists actually spent their lives.

This is an affecting and intelligent record: neither Folds nor Hornby should be shy about suggesting a sequel.

--Andrew Mueller

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven on 29 April 2011
Format: Audio CD
Some have called him, unflatteringly, a sweary Billy Joel. On his last album, Way To Normal, I wondered if he was aiming himself at the target of being a sweary Randy Newman. On the evidence of this collaboration with Nick Hornby however, Ben Folds looks like being tagged as a cuss-heavy Elton John. With Hornby as Bernie Taupin, of course.

Is that a bad thing?

No. While I've never really got along with Nick Hornby's somewhat self-congratulatory writing (and as someone who works in a record shop, take it from me - it's nothing like High Fidelity), on this album Hornby's four-minute tales of pain, loss, guilt and crushed wonder are exceptional and you have to wonder why he hasn't ventured into this arena before. From Above is perfect wistful pop, and the lyrical hooks stick in your head - "maybe that's how books get written, maybe that's why songs get sung" indeed. Belinda is the 70s hit that never was, as much suited to Manilow as to Elton; even the brash and sweary (natch) Levi Johnston's Blues sounds more like a glitter-stomp in places.

And, perhaps freed from having to bang on about his own relationships (as many suspect he was doing on Way To Normal), Folds himself relaxes and thinks more about the music. This album sits perfectly alongside Reinhold Messner and Songs For Silverman in tone and theme and is highly recommended.

Still not something you can play with the kids around though, unless you really do want them running about singing the virtues of being a redneck...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susanne Lueck on 27 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Finally there's an album again that you wouldn't want to miss one sound or syllable of! Each Song is a poem telling its own story. True to the title theme, some of those stories are sad (Claire's Ninth, Doc Pomus), some are even heartbreaking (Picture Window - boy, still gulping hard at this one!) Some are funny-clever (Saskia Hamilton), some are trenchant-clever (Your dogs, Password) - but all of them are true. And authentic. And moving. Folds provides an appropriately intelligent, subtle and very enticing soundtrack to Hornby's likewise words. (Not to mention he created a Seventies wonder hit, Belinda, that never actually was but instantly sticks anyway.) Don't miss this! Buy it - and listen to it over and over. Every word and every note. You'll want to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Hoare TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
A high concept Album Lonely Avenue - Words by Nick Hornby, Music by Ben Folds where can it go wrong?

Ben Folds is a long favourite of mine; he combines a lack of reverence for being placed in a single musical genre with a willingness to take chances (like William Shatner's Has Been which Ben Produced) and all that appeals to my wide taste for music. Lonely Avenue has a good mix of energy and musical styles- matched with Nick's lyrics - that have made it a great album for me.

Having read through the notes and listened to it quite a few times now I like to imagine that Nick deliberately wrote things to make Ben's life hard - at least thats how I explain the lyrics "No hard consonants in my girl Saskia, Every single syllable sounds like Shakespeare." In comparison to the rest of my iTunes library I think Nick has written a less depressing Luke Haines style songs - the songs are on topics that interest him and encourage the listener to get onto google to find out more about the people.

The cover notes are excellent with each song getting a paragraph of explanation from Nick explaining the Origin. I would dearly like to hear a follow up to this album, but I fear Mr Folds will move on challenging himself and us further.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Double McNulty on 18 Jan. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Whilst calling Ben's last album, Way To Normal, a "letdown" would probably be a little harsh, there most certainly were a few songs that weren't up to the standard of his best work (solo or with The Five). Lonely Avenue, on the other hand, is songwriting and playing of the beauty his fans have come to expect from pretty much start to finish. Songwriting shared, of course, by Nick Hornby. Not that you'd really guess the words weren't written by Folds if you didn't know. Hornby's wonderful lyrics come out of the pianists mouth just as effortlessly and heartfelt as any that Folds has written himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave on 15 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
I've been listening this album none stop in my car for two weeks now...that's at least 2-3 times through the whole album from start to finish every day. I'm not even remotely bored yet...the tunes are just wonderful and the lyrics totally grow on you. I'm starting to really enjoy the songs that I initially didn't favour and continue to love those instant favourites like 'Claire's Ninth' and 'From Above'. I don't think one single album has endured such extended play in my CD player in such a short space of time since 'Rockin' the suburbs'. That must say something.

If you loved Ben's other albums, I'm sure you will adore this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam harris on 8 Aug. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Okay. So my initial reaction was that this album was a bit average, nothing special and the only song I really loved was From Above.

But when you actually take the time to really listen to this album (I had it on my Ipod) then you realize the beauty of the song or should I say musical stories.
After a few listens these songs really stood out.
>A Working Day - The first track, at less than 2 minutes its more of an introduction tune, however Hornby is spot on with the lyrics which are hilarious and Ben arranges the music perfectly. My favorite line from the album "Some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know, he's got his own blog".
>Picture Window - This song is tragic, Hornby's lyrics paints us a picture of a mother in hospital with her dying son and trying not to get her hopes up just to get them crushed. It'll definitely grab at your heartstrings.
>Levi Johnston's Blues, This is a lot of fun based on the boy who had a one night stand with Sarah Palin's daughter and was expected to change his religious views and grow up apparently the funny; insanely catchy chorus is from his tweets.
>Your Dogs - We all have that neighbor who blares out their music or makes too much noise, hopefully it's you with this track on full volume. Ben pounds away on his piano to perfection, every key is hit perfectly, real funky, funny tune.
>Practical Amanda - This is a lovely song, most couples will have the practical one and the dreamer. Hornby may not have the voice to sing this too his wife but Ben does beautifully, he sings with passion in this one. And when he belts out "I've got no time for dates and plans, no I'm to busy dreaming" You'll have goosebumps everywhere.
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