He’s made his mark in modern rock, but these days Ben Kweller thanks God he’s a country boy.
Having moved from New York to Austin, Texas last April, the singer and songwriter’s third national album, appropriately titled “Changing Horses,” embraces country, folk and Americana roots music, from the rustic blues of “Gypsy Rose” to the country rock of “On Her Own,” the Bob Dylan-style verbiage of “Wantin’ Her Again” and the gospel energy of the first single, “Fight,” which has already been added to CMT’s video playlist.
“Obviously, a lot of people are like, ‘So why did you all of a sudden make a country record?’ ” says Kweller, 27, who was born in San Francisco but raised in Texas. “I didn’t just all of a sudden ... I’ve been writing these songs for years. It’s always been a path of mine I’ve hinted at, but just never quite did it.”
Kweller says that unlike his previous albums, his desire on “Changing Horses” was “to have a more unified sound for the whole album.” But that said, he feels there’s a diversity to these 10 songs, too.
“People are calling it country,” he notes, “but there’s blues on there, gospel ... It’s just pretty much down-home, rootsy music, all the music that I grew up listening to from all these different sources that include everything from Woody Guthrie and Josh White to Hank (Williams) and George Jones and Roger Miller and Lead Belly.
“I’ve always felt like I could go any direction I want, and now that it’s out we’re having a blast with it. And it’s opening a lot of doors, too. There’s a lot of people out there getting this album who have never heard of me, so that’s exciting, too.”
Ben Kweller and the Watson Twins perform at 8 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 19) at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress, Detroit. Tickets are $19.39 in advance, $20 day of show. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.
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