- 15 May 17
The Gospel According To Paul...
Around about 2003’s 22 Dreams, Weller started to veer off a bit from the more traditional furrow he had been ploughing since his re-emergence from self-imposed exile in the early 90s. The artistic success of the lovely Wildwood, and the commercial clout of Stanley Road, established him, for better or worse, as The Modfather, and the next generation of musicians queued up to pay homage.
But the change of direction, after the diminishing returns of albums like Heliocentric and Illumination, was surely the true essence of the mod ethos that Weller has always lived by. Moving ahead, embracing the new, not the endless recycling of 60s and 70s music characteristic of the Britpop scene he had inspired. The problem with this approach, commendable as it is, is that sometimes the song writing took a back seat to all the beeping and clanging, ‘7 & 3 Is The Striker’s Name’ being a good example. This seemed especially evident on 2015’s Saturns Pattern. No such problems here however. The writing is strong and the production serves the songs, rather than vice versa.
We get rockers like ‘Woo Se Mama’ – all floor toms, clanging guitars and Hammond organ – and ‘Satellite Kid’, perhaps the standout, with Strype Josh McClorey on a groovy wah-wah guitar. He’s not the only Irish man on the album either. Boy George O’Dowd chips in, although, from this particular vantage point, he’s hard to spot.
We get soul and gospel in the form of the glorious ballad ‘Long Long Road’, built on proper swelling strings; ‘She Moves With The Fayre’ features the beautiful voice of Robert Wyatt; alas, ‘The Cranes Are Back’ is not, as one might hope, a song about the Dublin skyline, but it’s still a fine, piano-led belter nonetheless.
‘Hopper’ delivers an instantly whistleable, brass-driven hook, and the organ stabs of ‘New York’ break down into a middle-eight which is reminiscent of Grace Jones’ ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’.
Paul Weller makes it all sound effortless. A Kind Revolution is an album bursting with ideas and confidence, and delivered in a tidy 40-odd minutes, with the man’s usual fire and skill. You can’t go wrong.