Friday 21 September 2018

Paul Weller - True Meanings

There are certain truisms in life that can never be avoided - Births, Deaths, Taxes, Reading FC failing to win a League game ... and each year will bring forth a new Paul Weller album.

And 'True Meanings' has arrived.
Across his 14 solo albums he has re-appropriated Traffic and jazzy moments, gone pastoral and folky, picked up his guitar again and made some "Modfather Of Britpop" noises, indulged his experimental side, become the "Doyen Of Dad Rock", stripped backed and gone folky again, added a touch of soul, mixed Indie and Krautrock, gone psychedelic and spacey - he really is The Changingman (see what I did there?).

As is his want. 'True Meanings' signals another left turn from previous outings, but also revisits the earlier folky leanings - a simple redux explanation of this album is "A slightly less pastoral 'Wild Wood' with added strings.

Whilst I may have raved about them at the time, 'Saturns Pattern' and 'A Kind Revolution' were good albums, but didn't have enough to make me want to revisit them in the way 'Stanley Road', 'As Is Now' (my personal favourite) or 'Sonik Kicks' continue to provide.

The prime difference here is the appearance of a co-writer in the credits - a rare occurrence with Paul Weller output.
And the co-write has perhaps enhanced the quality control or taken the songs to a different place that Weller may have gone down on his own.
It wouldn't' be a Paul Weller album without appearances from Noel Gallagher and Steve Craddock.  The guest list on this one is expanded with Rod Argent offering Hammond interjections on (opener) "Soul Searchers" and (closer) "White Horses", and appearances from Folk royalty Danny Thompson and Martin Carthy on "Come Along".

The songs themselves are possibly rooted in "standard Weller acoustic" type material, but are lifted by bathing in strings, providing another string to the already full style-catalogue his career has inhabited.  And there is a slight dabble with Eastern-sounding backing on "Books".
There are moments when the song feels like they begin to descend in to Easy Listening/Crooning territory, but are quickly lifted by a key change or a wallop of swelling strings.
All theses moments, and the aforementioned perceived increase in quality control, go a long way to maintain interest from start to finish - yes there are specific tracks that one would want to extract and listen to in isolation, but this is (to my ears) and "Album" to be listened to as the artist intended (sounds a bit high-brow-arty-w*nky, but ...)

I admit in recent years to being probably more pleased with the existence, and concept, of Paul Weller than the actual albums, but this one goes off in another direction and renews interest.
This is definitely one to be pulled off the shelf again in future times.


White Horses

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