The Modfather, unplugged: intimate solo album from Britrock elder statesman.
After a 40-year career that has been increasingly defined by creative left turns, it should come as no real surprise to find that Paul Weller’s
14th solo album finds him embarking in a radical new direction once again.
Recorded in the months leading up to his 60th birthday in May, True Meanings finds Weller reinvented as a folk club troubadour, peering into the existential darkness as he broods on weighty subjects such as fatherhood, the nature of friendship and the ageing process.
Mostly accompanied by just an acoustic guitar and strings, the meditative, candlelit ambience – more Wicker Man than Changingman – is the polar opposite of that found on 2017’s positively chipper A Kind Revolution album.
However, as even the most casual Weller watcher could tell you, this is a reinvention that makes perfect sense. This, after all, is a songwriter who mastered the art of the late-night confessional as long ago as 1978 with
All Mod Cons’ English Rose, and there have been countless other examples down the years (That’s Entertainment, Bloodsports, Fly On The Wall) of his ability to wrench high emotion from the most spartan arrangements.
A joyful, funk-flecked Mayfly has a shackles-off feel that’s reminiscent of his 1992 solo debut, while Wishing Well – with lyrics by Erland Cooper from Erland And The Carnival – could easily be an eerie out-take from 1993’s Wildwood.
If a jazzy Old Castles brings a wry smile to the faces of fans with fond memories of Jam B-side Shopping, The Soul Searchers is likely to have them performing cartwheels. A haunting bossa nova groove featuring some supremely funky Hammond organ from Rod Argent of The Zombies, it’s a guaranteed crowdpleaser from an artist who’s notoriously loathe to give his audience too much of what they want.
While there are plenty of guests along the way to add splashes of light and shade – Come Along features folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, while a sitar-heavy Books showcases up-andcoming indie chanteuse Lucy Rose – this is unquestionably Weller’s most personal and most heartfelt record in years.
‘Find the child inside of me/This rusty key will set him free,’ he croons during a hushed Gravity, showing he’s still a slave to his ever-changing moods.
After a decade of sonic exploration ushered in by 2008’s 22 Dreams, fans will be delighted to find their man back on more familiar ground.