Paul Weller, ‘A Kind Revolution': Album Review
Unlike many rockers from previous generations, Paul Weller is in constant forward motion. This is proven in full on his new album, A Kind Revolution. That is not to say that the 59-year-old Weller has stashed away his trademark style or knack for writing a great tune, but he is, as Julian Cope would say, a forward thinking mofo.
A Kind Revolution, Weller's 13th solo album, wastes no time in getting into high gear with the rollicking "Woo Se Mama," a soul-charged rocker with swagger to spare, and a perfect example of his drawing on the past without submerging in it. With backing vocals supplied here by two U.K. soul legends, P.P. Arnold and Madeline Bell, timeless would be the word. "I listen to all sorts of music really," Weller recently told NME. "I don't know if there's any one direct influence. I think it all goes in there and gets processed and comes out differently."
So, just as "Nova" explores some of the David Bowie-inspired, electronic infused sounds found on 2012's Sonik Kicks, by the next track, "Long Long Road," he has moved to a sweet soul ballad mood. "She Moves Through the Fayre" has jazz leanings that are beautifully realized by the guesting Robert Wyatt. A genuine legend, Wyatt (ex-Soft Machine and an incredible solo catalog) had announced his retirement a few years ago, but his old friend was able to coax him out to lend his distinct voice to this lovely track.
The swinging psychedelic soul of "Hopper" is followed by the slightly funky "New York, which recalls some of his early Traffic-influenced solo material. Then, just when you think you have the album pegged down, another change in direction comes with the dancefloor soul/funk groove of "One Tear." Joining Paul on this track is Boy George, and their soulful voices blend to complement each other very nicely. The beautiful "The Impossible Idea" ends the album and finds Weller questioning his place in the world as he sings, "My eyes fix on the impossible idea that I'll change the world / Maybe I come to the conclusion I can’t even change my own life, there I fall."
It's been 40 years since Weller first began making records with the Jam, the seminal Mod/punk band who have influenced countless acts over the decades. On through to his time with the Style Council, and then his solo years, Weller has made a career out of going wherever his "ever changing moods" take him. Though not all of his explorations have been a success, that has never stopped him from picking up, dusting off, and moving forward. "The older I've got, the more open-minded I've become. I think I was more narrow -inded when I was younger," he said. "But maybe when you're younger that's a good thing, cause you have this one vision that you go towards."
That is in part why A Kind Revolution works so well; Weller never stays in one place too long here to get bogged down. The album flows beautifully as it travels from one style to another. His burst of creativity of the past few years is still in bloom and showing no signs of heading for the retirement home with this. Perhaps he says it best on "Nova," when he sings “I can’t seem to let it go, there’s too much to do.” We fans are very glad to hear that, Paul.
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