A ‘Horse’ of a different color

By Gus Bode

Ben Kweller

‘ ‘Changing Horses’

Release date: 2/3


Record label: ATO

Website: www.benkweller.com

Rating: B+

Ben Kweller’s career thus far has been, if anything, remarkable consistent. Since he was a teenager he has been turning out records full of shimmering power-pop that always contain at least a couple quirky gems.

Well, with ‘Changing Horses’ Kweller has ditched the jangling guitars for some pedal steel. He has put on the cowboy hat and produced a thoroughly enjoyable set of Americana tracks.

Evoking images of Jackson Browne and The Band, Kweller’s newest batch sounds like it was released in 1969 instead of 2009. Luckily, he has the chops to pull it off. The record does not come off as pompous or as if he is treading into a territory where he doesn’t belong. Kweller definitely has a knack for penning alt-country tunes.

The album’s third track, ‘Fight’ has almost too much twang but Kweller’s strong vocals and ability to produce memorable hooks make for one rousing chorus.


‘Sawdust’ finds Kweller channeling Randy Newman with a bouncy piano line as he stretches his voice to its limits. Just like a few other tracks here, he has put together quite the barroom stomp. I dare you to put this track on and not give a knee slap or two, maybe even a few well-placed ‘yahoos.’

Kweller is navigating well-worn territory here, but he is doing it so gracefully the record is a nice change of pace from his usual output.

This time around, his decision to turn in the Weezer for some Whiskeytown is a welcome one.

Luke McCormick can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]