Album: Ben Folds/ Nick Hornby, Lonely Avenue, Nonesuch

The first of what one hopes will be many collaborations between Ben Folds and Nick Hornby proves to be an intelligent, sometimes amusing, sometimes moving, but always engaging collection of songs, pitched somewhere between Randy Newman and an Anglo-American Divine Comedy.

Hornby's knack for distilling the essence of a situation into a few telling lines – the divorced couple taking their daughter for a birthday treat in "Claire's Ninth", the terminal hospital admission in "Picture Window" ("You know what hope is? Hope is a bastard, hope is a liar, a cheat and a tease") is well matched by Folds's ability to find the apt setting, be it Beach Boy-ish harmonies, Devo-esque electropop or, in the brilliant portrait of the crippled songwriter, "Doc Pomus", a blend of rippling piano, rattling snare and French horn redolent of New Orleans.

DOWNLOAD THIS Doc Pomus; Picture Window; Claire's Ninth; Belinda