Kweller had the misfortune of being rushed into the spotlight leading the kidz grunge outfit Radish, who got plenty of “Can you believe they’re only 15!” press and promptly disappeared. But beneath that overhyped exterior lurked a pop savvy singer-songwriter who’s built a solo career over the past five years. Instead of going for ’90s grunge, he now reaches back to the singer-songwriter pop of the early ’70s for guidance. And like the late Elliott Smith, he’s a multi-talented musician who plays all the instruments here. Eschewing the live-in-the-studio roughness of 2004’s On My Way, he returns to the fuller production of his solo debut, 2002’s Sha Sha. The centerpiece is “Thirteen,” an arresting ballad about the desperation of young love. “We met on a front porch, fell in love on the phone without the physical wreck/You gave me the necklace that used to hang around your mother’s neck.” Kweller hasn’t lost any of his boyish charm, but he’s added distance and clarity and is living up to the buzz he generated as a teenager.
Ben Kweller + The Same Roberts Band | Avalon, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | October 22 | 617.228.6000