Ben Kweller, 'Changing Horses' (ATO)

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Changing Horses
Critical Mass
Label: ATO

by William Goodman

On his past three albums, Ben Kweller timidly hinted at his alt-country side, but here he really lets his belt buckle show. The Texas native trots through hymnlike hootenannies ("Fight") and honky-tonk ditties heavy with slide guitar and choogling piano ("Old Hat"), and on the decade-old "Ballad of Wendy Baker," he even tackles the death of a high-school classmate. Changing Horses' Americana journey is hardly inventive, but Kweller's boyish charm and quirky songwriting keep it more promising than predictable.

Listen: Ben Kweller, "Sawdust Man"

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