True Mean­ings

The Observer - The New Review - - Critics -


If Paul Weller’s 50s were de­fined by a wel­come mu­si­cal rest­less­ness – 2008’s 22 Dreams of shapeshift­ing records that over­flowed with vi­tal­ity and fresh ideas – the now 60-year-old some­time Mod­fa­ther’s 26th al­bum is a sur­prise in a dif­fer­ent way. A set of gen­tle pas­toral songs, it finds him fi­nally im­mers­ing him­self in the singer-song­writerly fare that he’s in­ter­mit­tently dipped into since 1978’s Eng­lish Rose. With back­ing from his reg­u­lar band, plus guest spots from Martin Carthy and Rod Ar­gent among oth­ers, Weller sounds at ease with this more in­tro­spec­tive ma­te­rial, the lush or­ches­tra­tion act­ing as a per­fect foil to his voice.

The aptly named Glide is sub­lime, with echoes of Cat Stevens in its lul­laby-like sim­plic­ity. Grav­ity is equally lovely, Weller croon­ing “In my heart you’ll al­ways be/ The great­est love that I could feel” against a back­drop of strings. He saves the best un­til last: White Horses, one of three co-writes with Er­land Cooper of Er­land and the Car­ni­val (in­clud­ing, oddly, Bowie, on which Weller sings Cooper’s lyrics), grad­u­ally builds to a stir­ring cli­max with real emo­tional heft. Phil Mon­gre­dien

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