The unveiling of another new Paul Weller album is becoming a regular hallowed ritual that uncovers musical treats and bonuses that you might never expected the Modfather to breach. His recent releases have seen experimental, kraut, library and many more musical journeys this man of all musical trades has been delighting and surprising his audiences for well over 40 years.
On Sunset, released via Polydor on 3rd July 2020, comes with a soul warning, that is the snippets that have been released from the album have seen Weller returning to the same outlet that adorned Starlite back in 2011 and also the likes of Long Hot Summer in 83. Mirror Ball opens proceedings sounding the end of A Day In The Life before stunning sythnasized vocals dip a trip into the speakers. The track might have fit onto his previous long player True Meanings, that is until a sojourn into more experimental sounds, gliding rhythmic soul beats plus pretty grand piano twinkling’s does something different to the track, an intriguing 6 minute plus start. Baptiste has spiritual reverberations, Weller exclaims he never went to church, but going on this ditty the likes of Ray Charles would be singing and clapping from the front of the chapel with its organ chiming out from the pipes and a blues guitar shuffle, sounding like the distant cousin of Pink On White Walls.
Old Father Tyme has a piano stomping northern soul feel, maybe an excuse for talc and a cleanly polished floor to be located, Weller sings his well-used ‘woo’s’ and ‘ows’ with enthusiasm, you can picture him surrounded by his music, totally dedicated to enjoy his own composition and sing ‘til his heart’s content. The sumptuous single Village is a powerhouse soul ballad, the opening verse ‘here I am, ten stories high, not a single cloud in my eye’ is the best verse opening verse of the year. A supremely almost effortlessly brilliant single, the gel that glues this sort of composition together was used by Holland / Dozier / Holland, Levi Stubbs at the microphone, an enshrined number.
More, having been showcased by Weller on one of his solo guitar broadcasts whilst in lockdown showcased a composition similar to those power ballads as featured on Confessions Of A Pop Group. Creeping solo falsetto vocals before Julie Gros from Le Superhomard dips in with fluttering soul exertions. With the addition of strings, horn section, smooth clicking bass and a chord structure straight out of the top draw starts to lift this whole listening experience into the higher loftier realms of music. On Sunset breaks from the dawn, a seashore sounds whilst an acoustic guitar sounding like Everything Has A Price To Pay glistens on the horizon, a moog briefly sounds before Weller and a set of bongos charm you away into appealing places and spaces, finally a vibraphone and solo electric guitar add their weight to this yet again 6 minute plus package.
Equanimity has that jittery blues sound that Brand New Toy and Here’s The Good News had wrapped around its body but this tune fixates the listener on a more popular sound similar to She’s Leaving Home or Big Sky, Slade’s Jim Lea contributes charismatic violin whilst the end of the song has a tripped out ending that introduces Walkin as a sparkling piano chomping pop parcel, an almost marching band anthem but with cool shades, Lee Thompson’s sax adds that little dash of magic to this loveable cheery backbeat. Earth Beat, the first single lifted from the album is another top single in the same vein as the aforementioned Starlite but what comes with age comes experience and if you’re wise you get better with time, this proves my point.
Final track comes in the guise of Rockets, before it plays, I hope it will have all engines go to give this outstanding album the fitting end it deserves and boy it does. Clocking in at 4 minutes 20 seconds the track starts with Weller’s broken delicate vocal, the track could be a Bowie classic, instead it’s a Weller classic, heavily orchestrated, it’s a tune that would sound fab with a glitterball adorning a ballroom as a couple dancing the night away before the final bars chimes and fade away. Sam and Dave sung about a Soul Man having a truck load, this bag of musical feelings from the Woking wonder does indeed come at you, his heart set on making grandeur statements of supreme soul vibrations and it does. 10/10
On Sunset can be purchased via the following link