For his next trick: an al­bum of gen­tle acous­tic bal­lads.

Q (UK) - - Q Review - PAUL WELLER

Paul Weller’s late-pe­riod pur­ple patch is now as long as the record­ing ca­reers of The Jam and The Style Coun­cil com­bined. Fol­low­ing the spliff-friendly grooves of 2016’ ’s s Saturns Pat­tern and last year’s genre gumbo, A Kind Revo­lu­tion, the ques­tion isn’t so much, will his next one be any cop? as it is, what un­ex­pected av­enues will he be ex­plor­ing on it? In that con­text, True Mean­ings’ left-turn is more sur­pris­ing pre­cisely for its tra­di­tion­al­ism. Weller’s no stranger to a quiet acous­tic num­ber, but this is the first time he’s knocked to­gether an en­tire al­bum of them. The re­sult is a record filled with gen­tle re­flec­tions and a vul­ner­a­bil­ity pre­vi­ously only oc­ca­sion­ally glimpsed through the chinks in his more blus­tery ar­mour. It’s per­haps no co­in­ci­dence that these songs were com­pleted on the cusp of his 60th birth­day. Over a del­i­cate lat­tice­work of fin­ger-picked gui­tar and quiv­er­ing or­ches­tra­tions, Weller’s 26th stu­dio al­bum finds him tak­ing stock; look­ing wist­fully at his past and fac­ing his own mor­tal­ity. Glide’s dainty curlicues frame him as he peers through “a por­tal to my youth”. Danc­ing lightly as its tit­u­lar in­sect, Mayfly pleads to “take me back there again,” while Bowie seems to in­ter­po­late thoughts of his late fa­ther and what Weller might pass on to his chil­dren into a pil­low-soft ode to the de­parted Star­man. With only the randy thigh­rub­bing of Come Along to dis­rupt the sun-dap­pled mood, True Mean­ings feels like a wel­come glance in the rear-view mir­ror in a ca­reer that has been driven by a dogged re­fusal to look back­wards. Any­one ever touched by the likes of English Rose or Fly will find much to cher­ish here. The next one will no doubt be com­pletely dif­fer­ent. ★★★★ CHRIS CATCHPOLE Lis­ten To: Mayfly | Grav­ity | Old Cas­tles | White Horses

“A record filled with gen­tle re­flec­tions”: Paul Weller takes it nice and easy.

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