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Changing Horses

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Audio CD, February 3, 2009
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Ben Kweller was born in San Francisco, CA, on June 16th, 1981. Shortly after his birth, his family relocated to Texas where he began writing songs at the tender age of 9. Kweller, now 30, is one of the nation’s most treasured songwriters and performers. His genre-jumping blend of alt rock, piano ballads and folk music has captured the hearts of fans and critics alike, and has allowed him ... Read more in Amazon's Ben Kweller Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 3, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ato Records
  • ASIN: B001N2Z414
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,671 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Gypsy Rose
2. Old Hat
3. Fight
4. Hurtin' You
5. Ballad Of Wendy Baker
6. Sawdust Man [Multimedia Track]
7. Wantin' Her Again
8. Things I Like To Do
9. On Her Own
10. Homeward Bound

Editorial Reviews

2009 release, an all-analog recording that was tracked to 2" tape, with limited overdubs. Over the course of his three studio albums, Ben Kweller has become known as a top-shelf purveyor of the powerhouse pop song. But on Changing Horses, the 27-year-old Greenville, TX, native has gone back to his roots, saying "Some of the first songs I wrote as a kid, before I got into Punk Rock and underground bands, were Country songs." Changing Horses (whose title refers not only to taking on a new musical genre, but also to relocating his family to Austin, TX) reflects that period. 10 tracks.

Customer Reviews

The melody is sleepy, but sufficient, and is very pleasant.
The Headphone Transmissions
The amount you'll like this record seems to be inversely proportional to the expectations you have about a new Ben Kweller record.
Quiero Cafe
It features 70's country rock style with great lyrics and memorable melodies.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Headphone Transmissions on February 7, 2009
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Ben Kweller is an all-around fantastic musician with a surprisingly large underground fanbase. He's multi-instrumentally talented, and on this and past records, he shows us his versatility in that area. His first album in 3 years, Changing Horses is an risky experiment for Kweller, transitioning from contemplative, mid-tempo piano pop to a country sound. I won't over-pun such a title with excessive remarks regarding Kweller's genre change on Changing Horses; although, it is easy to do. Anyhow, the switch has been made and the stage is set. All we need now are the results.

Changing Horses starts warmly; a lengthy B note, followed by Kweller's convincing vocal slides and scoops. "Gypsy Rose," Kweller's opener, is a naturally successful track, utilizing traditionalistic country lyric phrases and solid, complementary rhythmic devices. The melody is sleepy, but sufficient, and is very pleasant.

Kweller's vocal performance is respectably polished throughout Changing Horses; especially on mid-tempo, country ballad "Hurtin' You" and bittersweet love lament "Ballad of Wendy Baker." Not only is the way he sings refined, but what he sings is also impressive, focusing on poetic description and artistic originality. "Old Hat" exemplifies this mellifluously with lines such as "My tornado, love, tore it all down / Now I am face down in all this muddy guilt," while the slow but steady musical accommodations really drive the emotion home.

Always considered a musician who focuses on his melodies, Kweller breaks all kind of melodic barriers on the record; first, by keeping his melodies retainable and enjoyable; second, by carefully crafting his hooks; and last, by dishing out countless surprises.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rudolph Klapper on February 3, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Going country seems to be the cool thing to do nowadays with the alternative/indie set, but on acoustic-hippie hero Ben Kweller's fourth record, it seems much less like an affected art than a natural fit for the former power-pop auteur. The eternally boyish Kweller, more well known for his charmingly earnest lyrics and straightforward guitar-oriented rock `n roll, has always had a vaguely sort of country twang to him, from his slightly accented vocals to his childhood in the Texas heartland, but it hasn't been as wholeheartedly embraced as on the metamorphosis that is Changing Horses. Hey, if Jessica Simpson can do it, Kweller certainly had a decent shot at pulling it off.

Kweller makes it a point to let the listener know that things have changed right off the bat, with the folksy riff that opens the album on "Gypsy Rose" and his fragile, lilting vocals announcing "now you've got me goin' / somewhere no one could find." No more bland guitar anthems or tongue-in-cheek pop toss-offs for this Ben; "Gypsy Rose" and the following "Old Hat" are as country as anything you're likely to hear out of Nashville, but Kweller's endearing accent and tasteful instrumentation, replete with pedal steel guitar, saloon-style piano, and soft drum brushes, make this more of an admirable emulation than a hubristic parody.

Indeed, it's Kweller's respect for old-school country that makes Changing Horses such an interesting and authentic experience, especially for those familiar with his past work. Kweller takes the standard conventions of country and does more than passable imitations of them, such as on the entertaining backwoods barroom sing-a-long "Fight," where he extols the listener to "fight `til your dying day" amidst a honky-tonk piano and multi-tracked harmonies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2009
Format: Audio CD
As a long time Ben Kweller fan, let me admit upfront that I was somewhat (ok, a lot) sceptical of Kweller's rumored full embrace of country-twang for the new album. I mean, Kweller's 2004 album "On My Way" was a favorite of mine, and that was as far away as you can be from country-twang.

"Changing Horses" (10 tracks; 36 min.) plows full head into the country-twang, and when I had heard one track before its release I feared the worst. Having heard the full album now, I can tell you that my fear was unfounded. Sure, it's quite a departure from Ben's earlier albums, but somehow it works. There are no particular highlights or lowlights on this album, the short tracks swimmingly flow from one into another, and either the overall sound will attract you, or it won't. For me, it worked. The album reminds me a lot of Ryan Adams' "Jacksonville City Nights" album incidentally.

In all, I quite like "Changing Horses", despite my early scepticims. That said, this being such a radical departure from Ben Kweller's earlier albums, it really makes me wonder what is next for Kweller. Is this just a one album departure, or is this the direction that Kweller has decided to go on from now? Time will tell.
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Format: Audio CD
Ben Kweller is a young man. He was a young man when his stellar debut, 2002's Sha Sha, was released and he'll be a young man (in sound at least) until he gets throat cancer. He's also a happily married songwriter with a curly mop top and a whole lot of songs. These are just a few of the many things you could possibly already know about the artist behind the recently released Changing Horses. He's kinda/sorta a southerner (Frisco, then Texas, now New York City); he's been a semi-famous critic's darling for some time now (okay, maybe not); he likes both roots and pop music; and, most importantly, someday he's going to write really good songs. Until that day comes, with Changing Horses added to the stack, we now have four collections of perfectly enjoyable - and always youthful - pop tunes.

First things first: the voice. Kweller's boyish chime has been one of the most welcoming and comforting around since his debut, coming off like a Blue Album-era Rivers Cuomo on a Something Else By-era Kinks bender. He's boyish, witty, charming, sweet, insightful and - dare I speak loudly - one of the most unpretentious songwriters of his era to be taken seriously (moment of silence for Jack Johnson). All the Kwellerisms his fans have come to know continue here, though to much different results. Save for his eponymous 2006 disc (an all-out D.I.Y. pop record), Kweller has always been on the fast-track to the twangy sound of Horses. On My Way (2004), his by far best effort yet, was a lean, mean young man's answer to Ryan Adams' Gold - a flagship record for the Americana movement the early part of this decade saw. Horses takes things further, offering an even more country-infused songwriter sound than Adams' own country best, Jacksonville City Nights.

And it works.
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