Over the past decade since 22 Dreams, Paul Weller has been on a brilliant run of experimental albums. Alongside those, he’s also been quietly stockpiling the kind of simple ballads he’s excelled at ever since English Rose. Having celebrated his 60th birthday in May, an atypically reflective Weller collates his most unadorned singer-songwriter album since Heavy Soul. Guests include Martin Carthy and The Zombies’ Rod Argent, while four lyrics are by Erland And The Carnival and Villagers’ Conor O’Brien, yet the spare instrumentation and awed vocals make the sound trademark Weller. Having taken his sound as far out as possible, Weller goes back to the start. That doesn’t make True Meanings any less adventurous than his recent work. Now he’s the age he always should have been from those early ballads, there’s a touching, parched quality to his sound. An album many fans have yearned for and a reminder that few are better at unvarnished songwriting, Weller seems to be moving into Johnny Cash territory. English Recordings, anyone?
Written by John Earls. Released on Parlophone.