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Ben Kweller

Changing Horses – 2009 (ATO)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Ben Kweller

You really want to like Ben Kweller's CD, a musical departure for the Texas native. This disc has breezy melodies, country laments, pedal steel and the all the elements that Gram Parsons used to rope country and rock together and make himself a seminal musical figure. Everything, that is, except clever lyrics and memorable stories. Parsons had "Streets of Baltimore" and "Return of the Greivous Angel."

Kweller has blander fare. Gypsy Rose and Old Hat all conjure up empty highways and desert trucking, but many of these songs are indistinguishable from the next. It's not always easy for a young singer to grab onto the genre. Some folks are too reverent; they get burdened down by country's conventions and are too afraid to make the music their own. This album, which Kweller self-produced, has a nice sound, but could have used a little more work to hammer things home to the veteran listener.