Dang it, Ben! You’ve done it to me again. Alt-country’s latest all-star, Ben Kweller, turns in a powerful release with Changing Horses.

The disc and its 10 tracks carry a strong narrative of down-home themes that anyone’s inner redneck can get behind (Yes, even I am a hillbilly at heart.). I can’t possibly sell you on just one song because honestly, they’re all good.

Kweller hasn’t abandoned his love of catchy melodies at all. From indie rock to folk rock, he bears the transition beautifully. That could be due to his recording this fourth studio effort in “cool meets country” Austin, Texas. Or maybe Kweller has secretly been drinking from the well that made artists like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash so great.

I blasted Changing Horses while stuck in traffic going through Laurel Canyon, and I never enjoyed the prolonged ignorance of my fellow Angelenos more. That hour-long gridlock was just enough to make me fall in love with this disc and realize that the more I hear from Kweller the more I WANT to hear from him.

Grade: A



Changing Horses is currently available.