I usually focus on visual art on this blog, but today I want to talk about music. One of my long-time favorite musicians, Ben Folds, teamed up with Nick Hornby (author of About a Boy, High Fidelity, and others) on his latest album. Nick Hornby wrote the lyrics, and Ben Folds made them into songs. When I first heard about their collaboration, I was surprised (and pleased!) at such an unusual project, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized they were a great match.

And I wasn’t wrong! The album finally came out last week, and I have been enjoying it ever since. Hornby’s lyrics are so fitting to Folds’s music. Each song tells a story; each song reveals a character we want to learn more about as the lyrics unfold. We see the 9-year-old Claire, who has a more mature perspective on her parents’ divorce than they do, in “Claire’s Ninth.” And the washed-up singer who is forced to sing a song, night after night, named for a woman he regrets leaving, in “Belinda.” What is great about this collaboration is that this storytelling isn’t new to the music of Ben Folds. With Hornby’s help, he just does it even better.

(If this album and these two men aren’t already cool enough, they collaborated on a VideoSong with awesome youtube artists Pomplamoose. Check it out here.)