Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 7th 2020
Weller's new album is a great album
Paul Weller is some-one who seems to have been around in the music scene on and off for my entire listening life. Starting with The Jam – I loved 'A Town Called Malice' – into The Style Council (I had a girlfriend who was a huge fan when I was in high school) and then his later years of doing whatever he felt like doing (22 Dreams from 2008 is an awesome album). On my fortnightly trip to the music store (and book store) I saw that a new album had just been released by the man. It was not that expensive, so I grabbed it. I am so glad I did.
I have not kept up with Weller's output of late, so I have no idea of this is a change in direction, a development from recent albums, or whatever. To me, I am just taking this as an album by an artist whose work I like, without any context. That does make it interesting for me.
So, what did I think? I like this album. A lot. Yet another great album by one of the old guard of the music industry. Come on, younger musicians! Lift your game! You're being made to look second-rate by a man in his sixties!
'Mirror Ball' We open the album with a piano and gentle New Age type music, all swirling synths and ethereal vocals. It slowly picks up into something a little more… disco? Then later on we get fuzz-tone guitar, then back to disco. That sounds weird, but it is a really good opening track. It sounds like the sort of songs from when the sixties met the seventies. And despite it being seven and a half minutes long, it does not feel like it overstays its welcome.
'Baptiste' This sounds like old-fashioned r&b or soul – this is what Style Council could well have been making now if they had survived. Weller's voice has aged nicely into this sort of music, giving it an air of someone who knows what he is talking about.
'Old Father Tyme' This follows from the preceding song in having those old-school influences shining through, but there are some nice, if not odd, modern computer flourishes. They do not detract; Weller has seamlessly melded the old and the new together.
'Village' Yet another song that sounds like it draws from the past, and this time in every musical way. The music is one good point, but, lyrically, this is an incredible song. Never one to write bad songs, the lyrics here are just wonderful. I know I go on about lyrics a lot in my reviews, but when they are this beautiful, why not? The true poetry of the last 50 years can be found in the songs, not in the books that sit unsold on shelves or put out in such small runs it is embarrassing.
'More' With the addition of Julie Gros on vocals, this song is more soulful and the sound is a little more contemporary, though Style Council stylings are still very much evident. The strings are wonderful here as well. I did say at the start this was a good album, right?
'On Sunset' Acoustic guitar, hand-based percussion, a female chorus, some horns, strings – this track has a bit of everything. It is a cool, relaxed song with, yet again, wonderful lyrics, these about the passage of time. "But the world I knew / Has all moved on / All the places that we used to go / Belong to a time… Another time…" And it finishes with the sounds of waves rolling onto the beach as a flute plays us out. Glorious track.
'Equanimity' There's almost a jazz feel about this track, or the sort of mid-sixties pop as played by The Turtles. Afraid the music did not do it for me, even if the lyrics were not too bad.
'Walkin'' The piano from the previous song becomes a little stronger here and the lyrics have a note of positivity about them – leave your baggage behind and just get on with life. Another good track, with that ubiquitous saxophone solon that pervaded so much of the 80s.
'Earth Beat' I really liked the way this song opened, with the female vocals and the synth and beats then joined by Weller. A different sound to the rest of the album and a good sound. The drums come in and it becomes a strong track of connecting to the world. The we get a verse from some-one named Col3trane and it's weak in delivery and emotion and does knock the track down a peg or two.
'Rockets' The organ goes straight into this track, which sounds like a David Bowie track. Serious – it has that early seventies era Bowie about the beginning. Apparently it is about Bowie still looking down in us all. Yeah, I can live with that. This is probably my favourite track on the album and a beautiful way to finish.
That is the regular album. There is a Deluxe version with 5 extra tracks on it, but (for a change) I only bought the standard album (money issues – sorry). Still, these ten songs are amazing. I didn't like one, and didn't get into a part of another. That is a really strong rate.
So… Look, I recommend this album. Completely. For lovers of good music – get it. You will not be disappointed. But it is not for fans of The Jam, possibly(?) not for Style Council fans either. But if you did like especially Style Council, I don't think you'll have major issues here. Basically, this is an album by an older singer/musician reflecting on life and the world, and doing so in a really strong manner. And I think younger audiences might even get into it. There is something about it that feels timeless, and I do not mean that in a disparaging way.