448. Ben Kweller – “Changing Horses”

All hail an artist willing to undertake a complete makeover four albums in…

The shift to country-music was not a complete shock, as Kweller has always been one to strap on the acoustic or call for more pedal-steel.

But this album sees him embrace honky-tonk and bluegrass. And what a damn fine hootenanny he throws for us faithful listeners.

BK’s joie de vivre has always been a big chunk of his appeal, and bringing this positive outlook to the country genre is a welcome respite from the ‘my dog died/my truck don’t run’ vibe that weighs down many of the dusty booted balladeers.

This album is chock full of all that is fun and right – trucks, bars, greyhound buses, love going great  – and Kweller seems refreshed and reinvigorated on the songwriting front.

The album opens well with Gypsy Rose, hits hillbilly heights with Fight (that line about aces, faces, 2s and 3s gets me every time), nails Beatlesque skiffle with Sawdust Man, and makes a play for alt-wedding waltz on Things I Like to Do:

What makes this BK’s most satisfying opus (thus far) is that he treats the slower songs with greater care/acumen.  He delivers a track with a chorus perfectly suited for a sitcom about a feisty twenty-something Mary Tyler Moore-type making her way in the big smoke:

File under: BK backed a winner

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