Paul Weller – A Kind Revolution album review
“My mind is a running stream,” Paul Weller sings at the beginning of Nova, “stretching down by the side of a willow tree”. It’s a lyric that would have sat well on Wild Wood, the bucolic album that revitalised his career back in 1993, but Weller’s a restless fellow, and A Kind Revolution rarely revisits familiar territory for long.
In fact, Nova opens with chugging guitars and finds him in a rather psychedelic mood, its keyboards adding a mildly Pink Floydian quality. Saxophone and bluesy guitar solos find a home there, too, while his vocals sound appropriately enraged given its message of urgency: “Can’t seem to let it go/ There’s too much to do”. Weller may still enjoy life’s pastoral pleasures, but he’s unafraid of setting the woods on fire.
Both sides of his nature are evident throughout this album, which means that, occasionally, Weller puts on slippers while the fire seems to be burning in the hearth. That’s not necessarily a criticism: as he approaches his 60th birthday, he’s earned the right to put his feet up, something he enjoys after the nostalgic Long Long Road, which matches cosy sentiments with a simple string arrangement.
On The Cranes Are Back, too, his middle-aged joy, shared with a child, upon spying birds migrating for the summer is as charmingly muted as the subtly gospel-flavoured song itself. Hopper even finds him maturely celebrating painter Edward Hopper’s work, an organ buzzing in the background, warm horns lighting up the song’s bridge, as he describes “melancholy colours” and “sullen neon lights”.
He stirs things up, though, alongside PP Arnold and Madeleine Bell, on Woo Sé Mama, pairing its soulful vibe with socially conscious swipes at austerity (“Some…/ Would hold the poor to blame/ And never feel guilty”), while, on the unusually loose One Tear, he joins up with Boy George to question religious manipulation: “I don’t want your kind of gods/ That divide us”.
More accessible than his recent Jawbone soundtrack, A Kind Revolution fails to match Weller’s peak work, but proves that, though his mood can still be fiery, he can be warm and tender, too.