Why not? Nick Hornby, a novelist whose works include High Fidelity and About a Boy, writes the words and his friend and musician, Ben Folds, writes and performs the music. Folds has always been a literate songwriter, but only someone like Hornby would be bold enough to try writing a tune called “Levi Johnston’s Blues.” Paul Buckmaster brings the strings and Folds sings in the voice of 18-year-old Levi, whose world is turned upside down by his girlfriend’s pregnancy and her mom’s ascendance into the media spotlight. “Doc Pomus” is easier, a song about another songwriter. “Claire’s Ninth” is a touching ballad about a girl who’s a child of divorce, sung like a Paul McCartney ballad. “Saskia Hamilton” throws things in between synth-pop and heavy metal. “Belinda” is another masterfully orchestrated piece from Buckmaster, who does for Folds what he’s done for Elton John. Plenty of character sketches and snapshots of real life painted with sentimental piano ballads and the occasional rocker. The Deluxe Version includes a “pop version” of “Picture Window” and “Things You Think,” featuring the indie jazz-duo Pomplamoose, plus a seven-minute video about the album.