Ben Kweller

Record Review

Texas Platters

Ben Kweller

On My Way (ATO) Since last we met young Ben Kweller, he's toured the world behind his 2002 solo debut, Sha Sha, and collaborated with both Ben Folds and Ben Lee in the Bens. Following his appearance at 2003's Austin City Limits Festival, Kweller recorded On My Way. Much like its predecessor, On My Way wanders stylistically, Kweller racking up musical debts to Weezer (on opener "I Need You Back"), mentor Ben Folds ("Hospital Bed"), and most notably, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, primarily on the confessional title track. Kweller's existential musings on acoustic guitar are charming ("I want to kill this man – I'll kill him with karate that I learned in Japan"), but the conceit is unoriginal. In fact, Kweller's stylistic flirtations are distressing: Is he paying homage to his influences, perhaps too young to have incorporated them into his own aesthetic, or is he just terribly derivative? Lucky for him, it's too soon to tell, but suffice it to say there's no new ground being broken here. Make no mistake: Kweller's an endearing artist, not to mention a talented lyricist, but it appears that he's simply too impressionable and ends up mirroring his influences rather than building upon them. It's a forgivable enough sin, though. Not all music has to change your life; sometimes all it has to do is make you sing along. (Ben Kweller plays Stubb's Wednesday, April 28.)


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