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Published on October 1st, 2018 | by voxx

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Paul Weller – True Meanings

For his next trick: an album of gentle acoustic ballads…

Paul Weller’s late-period purple patch is now as long as the recording careers of The Jam and The Style Council combined. Following the spliff-friendly grooves of 2015’s Saturns Pattern and last year’s genre gumbo, A Kind Revolution, the question isn’t so much, will his next one be any cop? as it is, what unexpected avenues will he be exploring on it?

In that context, True Meanings’ left-turn is more surprising precisely for its traditionalism. Weller’s no stranger to a quiet acoustic number, but this is the first time he’s knocked together an entire album of them. The result is a record filled with gentle reflections and a vulnerability previously only occasionally glimpsed through the chinks in his more blustery armour. It’s perhaps no coincidence that these songs were completed on the cusp of his 60th birthday.

Over a delicate latticework of finger-picked guitar and quivering orchestrations, Weller’s 26th studio album finds him taking stock; looking wistfully at his past and facing his own mortality. The dainty curlicues of ‘Glide’ frame him as he peers through “a portal to my youth”. Dancing lightly as its titular insect, ‘Mayfly’ pleads to “take me back there again,” while ‘Bowie’ seems to interpolate thoughts of his late father and what Weller might pass on to his children into a pillow-soft ode to the departed Starman.

With only the randy thigh-rubbing of ‘Come Along’ to disrupt the sun-dappled mood, True Meanings feels like a welcome glance in the rear-view mirror of a career that has been driven by a dogged refusal to look backwards. Anyone ever touched by the likes of ‘English Rose’ or ‘Fly’ will find much to cherish here. The next one will no doubt be completely different.

- By Jake White


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