Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Paul Weller - True Meanings, album review

Swayed by the Wash

There are a number of supporting carriers for the mantle of John Martyn, yet I would give this mainly to John Smith as someone who currently seems best to embrace not just Martyn’s guitar styles and earlier folk leanings but also other folk echoes of the late 60s and 70s, especially on his latest album Hummingbird, reviewed here. Another strong contender is, perhaps surprisingly, Paul Weller, most notably the opening song The Soul Searchers from his latest release True Meanings.

Weller’s new largely acoustic and at times orchestral album may not be Jam aficionados’ favourite, but it plays to my pretty-music sensitivities, and it isn’t as if he hasn’t been here before, many times, but obviously on Stanley Road where he then provided echoes of Nick Drake and Richie Havens.

The Soul Searches uses both a climbing melodic line that reminds of Martyn’s I Don’t Wanna Know About Evil and then also his slap style of playing guitar – but it is that melodic repeat which most reminds, happily so. The album isn’t all this: there’s the jazzy and again orchestrated Old Castles, as well as the chamber pop of Gravity performed on last night’s Later…with Jools Holland where it sounded as sweet as it is meant to be.

This is a calm and soothing album, no doubt reflecting other wider comforts in Weller’s life. Lucky guy, even though he sings about a world full of pain on What Would He Say? and ruminates similarly in Aspects,

Crippling aspects
Of life with no rhyme
Nor that of reason
Or that of time

To find true meanings
And patterns in things
Symbols in making
These moments exist

so there is a paradox in the lyrics and the surface mood, but lament has always been a feature of the pretty, and here we are talking about the varying dispositions of love. The plucked and layered strings as well as choral backdrop to these two verses will cloy for some, I’m sure. And the harpsicord. But I sway with the wash if I don’t think too hard.

I have plenty of raucous stuff to turn to when I want/need. Here in the still quite early morning of listening to the album and writing this, I’m content enough to be stroked rather than animated.

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