With a stroke of his pen (10 original songs), a flourish of pedal steel, and high lonesome tenor voice Ben Kweller has fired a shot across the bow of the americana community. In an 11 day studio session Kweller, who has flirted with countrified rock in the past but more often than not channeled either the Stones or Big Star, has suddenly struck a claim as being the most important new voice in a genre that is always flirting with extinction, irrelevance, or at the very least musical complacency.
With cover art that hints at Sweetheart At The Rodeo and a sound like the dry earth of Kweller’s new adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, Changing Horses is both a change of pace and a return to his roots. Kweller says it best here:
I recorded this album called Changing Horses. I grew up in a small east-Texas town called Greenville where my whole childhood was spent playing in creeks, bass fishing, shooting bb guns, thinking about girls and listening to Garth. After the Beatles and before Nirvana, country music was the soundtrack to my life. That music shaped who I am. My albums which tend to be diverse, usually have one or two cuts on them that are rootsy-americana-folkie-whatever-the-fuck ya wanna call it. This album focuses in on that one side of me.
The short song “Things I Like To Do” with its prominent pedal steel and simple lyrics about small town life and the allure of Texas (vs. NYC) pretty much sums up the new direction in Kweller’s music and life. You can order the record here and be entered into some kind of fancy contest thingy.
“Fight” live on Letterman last night
Tags: Ben Kweller