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Kweller’s ‘Kite’ flies high despite snags

Ben Kweller’s “Go Fly a Kite” has the vibe of a mixtape made by an angsty teen filled with the wisdom of maturity.

Each track falls in line with the next, creating a collection of different elements that create one consistent folky pop album.

His last album, “Changing Horses,” is much more of a country record. “Go Fly a Kite” is overall mellower than most pop, but also vocally emotional and instrumentally rich.

It feels as if Kweller pours his heart into this album. No matter how melancholy, each song is enthusiastic yet somehow calm.

The opening track, “Mean to Me,” kicks off the album with loud and powerfully energetic guitar chords and piano glissandos. “Don’t regret being a ragged kid. Don’t regret anything I ever did. ‘Cause I knew where I was coming from,” Kweller sings.

The song is pretty much Kweller’s way of saying, “kick rocks” to those who have a problem with him.

The midpoint of the album, “Free,” has a steady, solid bass with the use of cymbals punctuating the gritty guitar chords. The ballad is written through the eyes of an older, experienced musician recognizing the life of a “rock star” might not be the life he wants to lead. His chorus states, “Be sure that you wanna be free.”

The album ends with “You Can Count on Me,” another tipped-hat toward Kweller’s Texas background. The song is a catchy country tune emphasizing the use of string instruments versus the piano that is used as a staple in most of the other tracks.

In this album, Kweller’s voice no longer reminds you of a young boy like “Sundress” does on his self-titled album released in 2006. This might be his turning point.

Other songs on the record, “The Rainbow,” “Full Circle,” “Gossip” and “Out The Door,” channel artists such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and the familiarity is more appeasing than irritating.

The album seems to be an anthem of Kweller‘s place now in life. At points the lyrics become gloomy, the accompaniment retains its upbeat energy.  

Each song accentuates the fact that Kweller has no set formula for his songs. They are varied and they are still one collective body of work.

Kweller is a reliable, easy-listening option laden with heartfelt emotion.

Grade: B

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