The late-pe­riod re­nais­sance con­tin­ues apace with a timely plea for a “com­pas­sion­ate awak­en­ing”.

Q (UK) - - Contents - PAUL WELLER

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.”

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