Like Stanley Road before it, Heavy Soul is more about vibe than songs. There are a few sharply written tracks here and there, but what's important is the rootsy, stripped-down atmosphere. Paul Weller's soul and R&B influences reign supreme on Heavy Soul, yet they are filtered through late-'60s psychedelia, blues-rock and prog folk, as he takes songs into extended instrumental jams. The band sounds tight, but Weller has suffered a bit of a songwriting slump, which is evidenced by the handful of keepers that form the core of the album. "Up in Suze's Room" is a hazy, folky gem, the soulful apology "I Should Have Been There to Inspire You" is affecting, and "Peacock Suit" is a fine "Changing Man" rewrite, but too much of Heavy Soul is concerned with texture instead of content. That doesn't make it a difficult listen – in fact, it's quite entertaining while it's playing – but there isn't much to explore on repeated plays.
It is a fitting title: a high quality stylish collection featuring tracks taken from Paul’s albums of the last 15 years of his solo career. These 15 years have seen a constant artistic high, with each subsequent album release being heralded as ‘his best yet’. There are few artists with as many incarnations as Paul who can claim to have achieved such an ongoing renaissance, keeping each of their album releases sounding fresh and showered with plaudits.
Thomas Napper's Jawbone is a British independent film about a former youth boxing champ who returns home in an effort to rebuild himself after hitting a personal low. It's a quasi-autobiographical effort from its lead actor Johnny Harris – who also wrote the film and co-produced it – and he's the guy who brought Paul Weller into the project. Weller has done a lot in his career, but he's never composed a soundtrack, so Jawbone is noteworthy for that reason alone, but it's also interesting because it doesn't follow conventional paths for soundtracks.
Paul Weller will release his 13th studio album, A Kind Revolution, in May and there’s some great formats at various price points… The album is a prompt follow-up to 2015’s Saturns Pattern and features contributions from the likes of PP Arnold, Boy George and Robert Wyatt.