Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars22
4.0 out of 5 stars
Format: MP3 Download|Change
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 29 April 2011
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...
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 August 2013
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.
>Belinda - It's about an aged singer who's one hit is about his ex, and everytime he sings this song it reminds him of how he messed up. Not only is this beautiful but there's a hidden version of it probably suggesting what the song that the singer sings would sound like, it's like a cross between Elvis and The Doors. Funky stuff.

But then you've gotta wonder does Ben feel this way when he sings The Luckiest or Brick it reminds him of his failed marriage or his abortion it's truly sad to think this. It's no wonder so many singers suffer from depression.

Anyway to summarize Hornby does a fantastic job with the lyrics, making them comical, multilayered stories. He also doesn't stick to the conventional ABABAB rhyming scheme, in fact in most songs he doesn't rhyme, that's because he's a author not a songwriter and these are stories.

Ben Folds arranges the music perfectly even the strings, backing vocals, pianos ,drums, sound effects are all perfect. And Ben Folds does his best singing since Rockin' the Suburbs in my opinion.

This is a sort of project that should be repeated. I want a lonely Avenue 2.0, it wouldn't take too much time, because they never both have to be present. That's the crazy thing about this album, it's all done by Email but it sounds tighter then most bands albums nowadays.

(The only advice I would give was to not swear so much in songs, in a couple it works but in songs like Practical Amanda they just end up putting some dirt on an otherwise perfect song)
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 5 October 2010
I felt Way To Normal was a little bit of a dip in form, with its occasional thinly-veiled misogyny ('The Bitch Went Nutz'?) sitting uncomfortably with me so I'm glad to say that Lonely Avenue is a return to form. It may sound like an awkward collaboration for an author/musician to produce an album together, but a Nick Hornby/Ben Folds album makes a lot of sense. The partnership - with Ben writing the music and Nick Hornby the lyrics - seems to suit both men perfectly. They complement each other well, and at times Nick's lyrics are almost indistinguishable from Ben's own cuts for previous albums. In fact, Nick Hornby has stated that Ben is in some ways a musical twin, touching on the same feelings, characters and emotions that Nick uses in his stories.

It is a strong collection of songs that to my mind recalls Ben's earlier solo work. The slow piano ballads are brilliant, with 'Claire's Ninth' a particular favourite, as it tells the story of Claire's birthday and the battle fought between her divorced parents. These slower songs are to my ears the strongest, and 'Belinda' is another great song with Ben cleverly incorporating his own take on a 1960s/70s classic into a story about a one-hit wonder who is caught in emotional turmoil as he wrote the song for his wife and, even though he left her, must continue to play it each night as it's a fan favourite. However, more upbeat tracks like 'Your Dogs' and 'Saskia Hamilton' are fun to listen to as both Nick and Ben's trademark wit shine through. The album isn't without misfires though, as the barbed 'political commentary' of 'Levi Johnston's Blues' leaves me a little cold.

On the whole though the album is very good and immediately likeable. The tracks slot comfortably into Ben's canon and a few - 'Picture Window' or 'Claire's Ninth' - rank up there with his best tracks. It is definitely a return to what Ben does best; producing an album that can alternately make you laugh while at the same time tugging hard at your heart strings. It is a witty album full of wonderful songs. You can hear that both Ben and Nick had fun working on it and I hope that they choose to make another in the near future. Highly recommended.
22 comments|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 2 October 2010
This album was originally intended to be in a similar vein to Ben Folds collection of in-between album songs, a bit like Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP - a brief collaboration between two excellent artists from two different mediums. Judging from the excellent liner notes that accompany this album though, both Ben Folds and Nick Hornby feel confident enough to assert that this is a proper, fully-fledged album.

And it is. The BBC review is spot on - although I hadn't thought about before, Hornby and Folds share a talent for well-drawn character studies that means you can often mistake this for a standard Ben Folds solo album (and that is not a bad thing). The character sketches here both cut and cackle as ever - 'Picture Window' evokes a solemn London and is an outstanding track, while 'Levi Johnston's Blues' retains a lot of the slightly OTT electo-exuberance which characterised a lot of the songs on Ben's last album 'Way To Normal'.

This is a creative partnership that seems to have bought out the best in both men. The liner notes attest to the creative partnership behind 'Belinda' and it is indeed a really unique song in the Ben Folds canon; embedded with an even greater, sadder irony than some of his best cuts before. 'From Above' gets a special mention becuase its just a great pop song, with excellent backing vocals as well. I really wouldn't mind if they made another album together. Soon.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 December 2010
I think Lonely Avenue is Ben's best offering since Rockin' the Suburbs. It by no means eclipses ...Suburbs (which is a fantastic record) but, in terms of musical entertainment, Lonely Avenue comes closer than both ...Silverman and Way to Normal.

Silverman was a more mature and reflective album than anything that's come before or after but that was its shortcoming - the sarcastic, sniping, comical Ben Folds had largely been thrown out and replaced by someone more thoughtful and introspective. Saying that, it's still a great record.

Way to Normal, whilst in many ways a return to the Ben Folds his fans know and love and with some really exceptional songs, there were one too many fillers to make it a truly great record.

Lonely Avenue is a nice mix of the best elements from all three records. I know Nick Hornby wrote the lyrics, but you wouldn't know it. It seems Ben and Nick really are lyrical brothers. There's only one real duffer on this record and that's Practical Amanda. Everything else works perfectly (even Levi Johnston, which seems to get a hammering from most reviewers and a few snobbish critics).

He might not be to everyone's taste but there's no getting away from the fact that he's still the coolest nerd in town, making the best in alternative pop music.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 September 2010
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.
11 comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 October 2010
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.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 January 2011
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.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 June 2011
Got this 2 weeks ago and haven't stopped playing it since. Chances are it sold 5,000 copies, yet there is so much musical and lyrical ability here that it deserves to sell 100 times more than that. When modern music is so one-dimensional and all about sex, the likes of Ben Folds will never get a look-in, but thanks to Amazon, lovers of REAL music can still buy and play wonderful stuff like this. And for those who may think that it is all a bit 'soft' singing about love, well there's more expletives in this album than in your average rap album !
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)