- 14 Sep 18
Modfather’s Melodious Masterpiece .
Last year’s A Kind Revolution heralded a welcome Weller retreat from the electronica that over-egged Saturns Pattern and, to a lesser extent, Sonik Kicks. He’s gone all the way back here though, throwing almost everything with a plug out the studio window. The clichés to avoid are “bucolic” and “pastoral”, although both apply.
‘Soul Searchers’ begins with acoustic guitars, a drum shuffle, and swelling strings, before a glorious keyboard break from Zombie man Rod Argent. “Do what you feel/ I wouldn’t want it any other way,” might sound like Weller’s personal motto, and it’s his best song since ‘That Dangerous Age’, but the lyric is actually by Villager Conor O’Brien. ‘Glide’ morphs to an orchestral waltz that Paul McCartney would recognise as a good day’s work, and ‘Mayfly’, with its gentle horn-driven groove, strives to get things done “while there’s still time.”
The gossamer ‘Gravity’ floats on another beautiful string arrangement; ‘Old Castles’ has a slightly jazzy feel; and ‘What Would He Say?’ and ‘Wishing Well’ could be Neil Young outtakes, only better sung. ‘Books’ adds Indian instruments and the closing ‘Movin On’, ‘May Love Travel With You’, and ‘White Horses’ are just as lovely as everything that’s preceded them.
The songwriting, playing, and, most especially, Weller’s vocals are all exemplary, but it’s the string and subtle brass arrangements that really dazzle. It’s a beautiful record that follows in that particularly English bucolic/pastoral – I couldn’t help it – tradition that admirers of Martin Carthy (here on the horny ‘Come Along’ with Danny Thompson), Burt Jansch, Nick Drake, Traffic and others will be familiar with, shaded with some Wild Wood soul.
True Meanings instantly takes its place near the top of the list of the best Weller records. And that’s saying something.