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 Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller
It's amazing to see how far Ben Kweller has come in the past decade, from the lead singer of the little known grunge band Radish, when Kweller was only 16 years old. Then self releasing his debut solo album, Freak Out, It's Ben Kweller, in 2000, and then on his last album, On My Way, showing a more subdued style to that of a younger, wilder Kweller with more mature songwriting and introspective lyrics, for example on my personal favorite track on the record, On My Way that shows understanding of life far beyond his twenty three years of age at the time of writing. With this self titled release you can again see this more mature songwriting style displayed and the edgy sound from his earlier days has almost gone, with the exception of a couple of tracks.

The whole record itself is very personal for Ben Kweller, he has even said that at times it is an autobiographical album, hence the title. In fact it is so personal that he took it upon himself to play every instrument on the album, not only does this take a lot of patience on his part but a remarkable amount of musical talent must be required in an epic undertaking of instrumentation as this. But the variety of instruments shows that Ben Kweller is not a typical singer songwriter from this 'era'. He does not only ever use a guitar, but ventures into many other instruments and as Kweller has said himself is going back to the days of great American rock singers like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, but without the Americana that is so readily associated with these names.

The album opens up with the track Run, which is Kweller writing about his nomadic style of life in his late teens due to his early starting music career, and with it self referential lyrics is an apt introduction to an album which is more introspective than anything else Kweller has written. Kweller excels in his ability to write, often quirky, romantic ballads and on this album there is no shortage of them. An example of these is the brilliant piano only Thirteen, which Kweller rightly considers the best song on the album and is reminiscent of his one time collaborator Ben Folds. Another highlight of the album is Sundress which again features Kweller playing the piano.

But he still reminds of his youth and earlier style at the end of the album with This Is War, which contains heavy guitars that are similar to Kwellers earlier work, even going as far back as his Radish days. It isn't the only example of this on the album, but probably is the best of a few similar songs. These songs almost sound like an outburst of anger among what is a more sedate, serious album that previous releases from Ben Kweller.

In a year of music filled with different, exciting, new trends; new rave, grindie etc, and the return of some of the big names in indie music; The Strokes, the Killers and Kasbain to name but a few, it is very refreshing to see someone do something different and release a record in the style of an old fashioned American singer songwriter. The album does show a development in Kweller's character into a more mature lyricists and his capability as a musician is, as always, excellent. Although not all the tracks on the album are brilliant, it is worth getting for some of the stand-out tracks like Penny on the Train Tracks or Sundress.

8.5 out of 10

Buy Ben Kweller - Ben Kweller now at Play.com
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