The late-period renaissance continues apace with a timely plea for a “compassionate awakening”.
For long-term Weller-watchers, the singer’s performance at the Concert For Corbyn in Brighton last year felt significant. After almost a decade exploring the sonic stratosphere – bookended by 2008’ s 22 Dreams and 2015’ s Saturns Pattern – it suggested a return to more earthly matters. The title of his 13th solo LP is a direct plea for a compassionate “collective awakening” in the face of life on Planet Trump, while the usual bleeps and hisses are (largely) absent. In their place, there’s a crystal-clear production and a return to his most precious musical touchstones. Opener Woo Se Mama is a sizzling blast of uptown funk complete with backing vocals from soul icons PP Arnold and Madeline Bell, while New York is a breezy nod to Philly soul worthy of 1987’ s Style Council opus The Cost Of Loving. Recorded at his de facto HQ Black Barn with his touring band and close acolytes, fresh momentum comes in the shape of trusted left-wing generals. Robert Wyatt and Boy George add gravitas to She Moves With The Fayre and six-minute house groove One Tear respectively, but it’s when Weller gets behind the piano that the hairs on the back of your neck start to rise. The Cranes Are Back is a wistful meditation on the aging process, while Long Long Road is a gorgeous ode to social cohesion where he rasps: “When the road is rough/We got to stick together”. Anyone who recalls Red Wedge will tell you we’ve been here before, but 40 years on from In The City, Weller’s message of hope and positivity feels as relevant as ever. HHHH
Listen To: Long Long Road | Woo Se Mama | The Cranes Are Back
Paul Weller: “his message of hope and positivity feels as relevant as ever.”