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Changing Horses

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Album Review

After flirting with country music throughout his solo career, Ben Kweller embraces his Texas roots with Changing Horses, an earthy record filled with pedal steel guitars and honky tonk storytelling. Kweller's southern pedigree has always made itself known — in the twang of his acoustic guitar, in the lilt of his voice — but Changing Horses shines a spotlight on those nuances, replacing the heartland rock & roll of his past albums with a healthy dose of Americana. This is saloon-styled songwriting, complete with flashes of close harmony and images of Greyhound stations, starry skies, and homebound highways. Kweller sounds confident throughout, playing the rustic raconteur like a twentysomething Leon Russell, but the album's secret weapon is newcomer Kitt Kitterman, whose pedal steel riffs and Dobro arpeggios lend some authenticity to Kweller's southern state of mind. Nowhere is that mentality clearer than in the barroom gospel of "Fight," a three-minute credo of carpe diem ethics and multi-part harmonies. Meanwhile, "Sawdust Man" strikes a balance between bouncing Beatles-styled pop and loose, half-drunk folk-rock, while "Things I Like to Do" spins a simple love song narrative with relaxed wit. For those perennial fans who always wished Kweller had turned songs like "Lizzy" into swampy Nashville ballads, Changing Horses marks a defining moment in the songwriter's career, offering up a batch of pastiche-free country music that, like Ryan Adams' Jacksonville City Nights, may be a promising sign of what's to come.

Biography

Born: 16 June 1981 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Children are often raised in musical families, but few receive the same introduction to music as singer/songwriter Ben Kweller. Before he was old enough to enter kindergarten, a young Kweller emulated Nils Lofgren (who, during his time with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, would hang out with Kweller's father) by playing his toy version of the guitar. He also played piano, and by the age of eight, Kweller had begun penning his own songs. The following year, he received a nod of encouragement from...
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Changing Horses, Ben Kweller
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