Ben Kweller's latest album an alt-country favorite

Jay N. Miller

Ben Kweller has been dubbed an indie rocker, and with his latest country-tinged release, “Changing Horses,” he’s been acclaimed as a force in the Americana field.

Kweller, 29, says he’s a rocker at his core, and his next CD will be more that style, no matter how popular he’s is with alt-country folks.

“I think it’s been just luck that that genre’s supporters have happened to spring up around this record,” said Kweller. “That was not my intention. These are all songs I’ve been writing over the years, and I’ve been writing for a long time. They just seemed to all fit together in a little different style than I’ve been doing. My next album will most likely be straight rock ’n’ roll, the same guitar rock I’ve always done. This one was just a trip down a side road, where I wanted to show that side of me.

“Sometimes you write a song and want to play it that same night,” Kweller added. “A lot of the tunes on ‘Changing Horses’ I wrote years ago, and never played them for anyone, except maybe my wife. There’s one song, ‘The Ballad of Wendy Baker,’ about a girl I knew in high school who died in an accident at 16. I wrote that a long time ago, but it was too personal to ever sing in public. Now, all these years later, I’m a bit more detached and I was able to bring it out.”

Kweller said that on this tour he has been playing a wide variety of tunes from his four CDs.

“We’re not doing a ‘Changing Horses’ tour, but more just a good all-around rock show,” Kweller said. “I’ll be playing with what I call ‘the trio on the train tracks,’ which is myself on guitar, Chris Morrissey on bass and Mark Stepro on drums.”

Kweller’s second major-label release, 2004’s “On My Way,” is a special favorite of ours, frequently in the car stereo.

“I like that album a lot myself,” Kweller said. “We recorded that one essentially live after touring for two years straight. I didn’t show the band my new songs until we got to the studio, and we just winged it, but we were so tight from touring that it all worked out terrifically. My next one will be a bit more structured, since I have a batch of songs that I think lend themselves to more orchestration, pianoand guitars of course.”

The Patriot Ledger