Monday, August 26, 2013

Ben Kweller - Changing Horses

After establishing himself as a power pop wunderkind on his first three albums, Ben Kweller cut a major zag away from all his previous zigs. Changing Horses is an honest-to-goodness country album. This is The Byrds cutting Sweetheart of the Rodeo all over again...except Sweetheart of the Rodeo is a much better album.

The major problem with this album mirrors the problem in much of Alex Chilton's solo work. Chilton fancied himself a soul man, but he has the voice of a power pop genius. His soul comes off as a bit weak and contrived. Kweller's country isn't really country enough to be played on country stations, but it's 100% more country than anything else Kweller has ever done. The problem is that he doesn't suddenly sound like George Strait, he sounds like Ben Kweller singing country tunes.

The best two songs on the album are "Wantin' Her Again" and "Things I Like to Do," but those are the two songs that sound the most like non-country Ben Kweller songs. Changing Horses is a fine attempt at country, and the album isn't particularly offensive in any way. It just isn't country enough or good enough to make fans like myself forget Ben Kweller's true calling: rocking out to gorgeous tunes. I recommend this album as a curiosity, but not as a replacement for Kweller's other work.

Baleeted? No. This is a fairly decent album, even if it is a departure from the things I want Ben Kweller to do.

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