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Ben Kweller: Changing Horses

Changing Horses is serious about its title: Pop songsmith Ben Kweller has gone country, and it's the best fit he's found. "Gypsy Rose" kicks off Kweller's fourth album with a slide guitar, and—the string-based "Ballad Of Wendy Baker" aside—the disc sticks to that sound. Kweller isn't trying to be Waylon Jennings, though: "Sawdust Man" finds him wailing and shredding his voice a little, but Changing Horses is mostly sedate without being boring. It helps that he isn't shooting for lyrical authenticity: "Wantin' Her Again" is just Kweller pining over a California girl the same way he always has, while "Things I Like To Do" has him geeking out over listening to music on his tour bus, and casually mentioning trips to Paris. Kweller still doesn't know when to shut up sometimes—"Things" ends with the sickly sweet line "most of all I like liking you"—but he's assembled a fine band and finally found a consistently productive groove.


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