From the Fabs to 2018’s best music in an ear-opening chat
“I t’s been an incredible year for music,” says Paul Weller. ”Whether it’s Kamasi Washington doing his spiritual jazz or Villagers raising the bar for pop music, I think there’s been so many great records in so many different genres.”
Weller is sitting outside a favourite café near his home in west London, warming himself in the mid-morning sun. Impeccably dressed in a navy mac, red sweater, white jeans and brown Doc Martens, Weller points out a small Robert Wyatt badge pinned to his jumper. “I wish he’d make another record,” he sighs.
Cigarettes and a latte close by, he is here to look back on a typically productive year – not just for himself, but for other artists, too. Weller released his 14th solo album True
Meanings in september – a gently introspective set whose tone was informed, to some degree, by turning 60 in May. that milestone gave him a reason to take stock, just as turning 50 had inspired his creative renewal with 22 Dreams. “It was quite a big deal for me,” he says of the accompanying sonic exploration. In this, he was helped by a number of diverse guest stars – ranging from stalwarts Danny thompson and Martin Carthy to relative newbies like Villagers’ Conor O’Brien and Erland Cooper from Erland & the Carnival. He even divulges the identity of one artist he is keen to work with in the future…
talk of O’Brien and Cooper leads, inevitably, to a wider discussion about the new music Weller has enjoyed during 2018. He counts albums from Gaz Coombes, the Coral, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Gwenno and Young Fathers among his favourites – and has even compiled a list of 15 essential tracks from the past 12 months, which you can see printed on page 58. “I want to hear the greatness in things, whatever style it may be,” he says passionately.
But as restless as ever, Weller already has his sights set on the future. He talks about his plans for next year – beginning with a John Martyn tribute concert in Glasgow in January and UK shows during the summer – and in particular the powerful urge to get back into the studio to start working on his 15th solo album… “I’ve got tunes! I seem to keep writing,” he says. “I’m not questioning it, or wondering why it’s happening. It’s good! I just go with it when it’s like that.”