CD Reivews for 03/04/09 – Ben Kweller, Ben Nichols

Compact Capsules
by Dan Ferguson

It’s a Ben thing this week, Kweller, who you may be aware of for his pop-centricities, and Nichols who if you dig the band Lucero he’s the scruffy-voiced, packs-a-day lead singer. Let’s go!Â

Ben Kweller
Changing Horses
ATO Records AT00069

Growing up outside Dallas in the 1980s and ‘90s, country music on the FM band was unavoidable for soon-to-be pop rocker Ben Kweller. Classify Changing Horses as a case of subliminal seduction fulfilled on which Kweller swaps his trademark sound for steel guitar and rhinestones creating an album aligned more with the cosmic country leanings of Gram Parsons than mainstream Nashville. Most importantly, the changed soundscape does nothing to detract from Kweller’s ability to craft catchy songs. Visit

Ben Nichols
The Last Pale Light in the West
Liberty & Lament RBG0128

Lucero front man Ben Nichols steps to the fore on his solo debut, an EP called The Last Pale Light in the West. Nichols uses the Cormac McCarthy novel Blood Meridian as starting point for the seven songs comprising the record. Unlike the frenetic punch of his work with Lucero, Nichols backdrops the affair with a dusty, old West blend of strummed guitars, piano, accordion and pedal steel and lets his trademark scruffy voice do the rest. The downscaling casts new light on both his singing and songwriting talents. Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)