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Ben Kweller – Go Fly A Kite (Review)

Ben Kweller, Go Fly A Kite

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BEN Kweller underlines his status as one of America’s most treasured songwriters and performers with the release of his latest album Go Fly A Kite, a collection of songs that soar to some great heights.

Steeped in the values that Kweller has come to hold dear, this effortlessly blends alt rock, piano balladry and folk music to conjure memories of classic American song-writing, whether it’s reminiscent of the all-time greats such as Dylan and Petty or the new cool collective of Weezer, Fountains of Wayne and Wilco.

What’s more, it’s his breeziest collection of tracks to date, maintaining a vitality throughout musically that sometimes belies the heart-on-sleeve nature of the lyrics.

On The Rainbow, for instance, he strums acoustically along with a bright piano arrangement and some vocal harmonising before opening with the lyrics: “Why do I sing these songs? All of these pictures of pain, about a girl with too many wrongs, finding the words to complain…” Needless to say it’s one of the highlights.

And on Time Will Save The Day, a rockier barnstormer, Kweller is on brash, nonchalant form, declaring “I don’t care where I sleep tonight” over a rabble-rousing break-up anthem. There’s a Weezer-style about the delivery too, which means that Kweller could conceivably be down with the kids in wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Earlier on, album opener Mean To Me hits you with fire-cracker riffs and a killer chorus that declares “you don’t know what you mean to me” over the kind of catchy hook that helped The Cars achieve such great success. But there are elements of Petty there too.

Out The Door is a country rocker that recalls both classic Stones and Dylan in places, yet once again attempts to find optimism from a desperate situation in its central refrain of “here I go out the door, I don’t need no more, here I stand, I got your hand, there’s no need to know which way to go”.

And Jealous Girl relates its tale of envy over brash guitar licks, striking piano chords and a “woah oh woah oh” chorus.

Free slows down the tempo slight to take in a blues-rock refrain that sits alongside the husky, lived in vocals well, Full Circle employs another country vibe that genuinely charms and I Miss You drops in another moving ballad that even recalls the emotional depth of classic McCartney. It’s a great penultimate offering, couched in sorrow yet utterly addictive to listen to.

Having broken our hearts, Kweller then picks up the vibe for the final song, You Can Count On Me, a statement of intent almost that combines foot-stomping beats with a highly melodic, sing-along chorus and easy-going folk-rock sentiments about being there in times of strife.

Certainly, Kweller has delivered an album you can count on to raise your spirits and occupy your heart and head for some time after you’ve heart it. This one has future classic written all over it.

Download picks: Mean To Me, The Rainbow, Out The Door, Jealous Girl, I Miss You

Track listing:

  1. Mean To Me
  2. Out The Door
  3. Jealous Girl
  4. Gossip
  5. Free
  6. Full Circle
  7. Justify Me
  8. The Rainbow
  9. Time Will Save The Day
  10. I Miss You
  11. You Can Count On Me