Paul Weller

True Mean­ings

Classic Rock - - Reviews - paul Moody

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.

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