He might still be sporting that ubiquitous mod haircut, but Paul Weller has come a long way since the days of The Jam. Indeed, if it wasn’t his name on the front of the album, the casual listener could easily be forgiven for not making the link between tracks like the electrified Woo Sé Mama (the new album’s opener) and classic 1980s number one Going Underground.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, however – quite the opposite, in fact. Paul’s sound on A Kind Revolution is big, bold and showcases his considerable talent as a vocalist. Mixing nods to classic 70s rock (see the aforementioned album opener) with the off-beat drum patterns and clean guitar tone that characterised the reggae influences which many punk bands took on board during Weller’s 80s heyday, along with hints of prog and a heavy dose of soul, this album has something to appeal to everyone.
The album’s stand-out track is its third: Long Long Road. This is a soulful number that recalls soaring ballads from acts like Sam and Dave and The Rolling Stones. The melody is memorable and the instrumentation is strong. The violins in the chorus add that extra touch of magic that really lifts the song above the ordinary and makes it the track on this album that listeners will return to time and again.
Other highlights include Nova (a space-age number with a hint of Uriah Heep about it), New York (a track giving a great big nod to the punk-reggae cross-over with its urgent bass sound and off-beat drumline) and Satellite Kid (a slow-moving, groovy number with a hip-shaking beat and tinkling jazz-club piano fills).
In his liner notes, Paul gives thanks to family, friends and acknowledgement to musicians who’ve had influence on him. These notes end with a tribute to late Status Quo guitarist and singer Rick Parfitt, and this tribute to absent friends can be found in the album’s songs too. Hopper – the album’s sixth track – tells the story of a ghost in late night bars, while The Cranes Are Back talks of trying to ‘heal the land’ and starting ‘a kind revolution so we can feel some hope in the world.’
This album is a real mix-bag of tunes, from rockers and groovers to ballads and soul numbers. It’s more than worth a listen and promises much for Paul’s upcoming tour.
A Kind Revolution is available now and Paul Weller will tour the UK in early 2018, playing the following dates in the North East and Yorkshire:
23 February – First Direct Arena, Leeds
24 February – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle