Ben Kweller Changing Horses
Ben KwellerChanging Horses (ATO)
Greenville native Ben Kweller has already been through a lifetime's worth of phases and stages – teenage rocker, power-pop maestro, acoustic balladeer – but his eponymous 2006 album, on which he played every instrument, signaled a coming of age. Changing Horses, his self-produced fourth LP, isn't quite the country & western crossover most would have you believe, more like the dirt road connecting his previous paths. The lonesome waltz of opener "Gypsy Rose" and saloon-style whoopin' in "Fight" feel chapped, comfortable, and confident, while "Old Hat" and "Hurtin' You," aided by the twang of pedal-steel newcomer Kitt Kitterman, take appropriate cues from the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Animated and playful, Kweller affectionately channels both Lennon and McCartney with double-tracked vocals on the lovable ragtime bop of "Sawdust Man" (also available as a limited-edition 7-inch through Bloodshot Records), then throws in some CB-radio chatter for good measure. Unfortunately, not all of Changing Horses is nearly as inspired, particularly the mainstream country pop of "On Her Own" and rudimentary "Ballad of Wendy Baker," but Kweller still lassos up a good time for good ol' boys.