Friday, 24 August 2018

Paul Weller - As Is Now (2005)




Released October 2005

Recorded in Buckinghamshire

2005’s “As Is Now”  is quite a folky album in places. Yes, there are some rockers, but there are also some lighter airy, acoustically-driven, almost jazzy, folky numbers. It is probably Weller’s most jazz-influenced album to date, and, actually, one of his best. After this came the “experimental” and “challenging” albums. This is probably the last of the Paul Weller albums from the artist we had got to know in the nineties. Thereafter came all sorts of material. Here, he was still the solid Weller you could rely on, not trying to push any boundaries in the way he would do, post 2008. I admire his later work, but there was always something reassuring about these albums and actually ploughs several new furrows on here, to be honest.

The album gets off to a good start - “Blink And You’ll Miss It” is punchy and rocking in a typical Weller fashion, full of strong vocals and choppy guitars, while “Paper Smile" is sharp, cutting and riffy, too.

The appealing “Here’s The Good News” is whimsically jazzy, complete with Dixieland-style trumpet. “The Start Of Forever” is folky and laid-back, in the “Wild Wood” style, with a dreamy sort of vocal and solidly melodic bass line, featuring some great brass backing. It has a bizarre, raucous guitar bit right at the very end though. “Pan” has Weller singing plaintively over a piano and choral backing about the god Pan, getting all mystical and bucolic, like Van Morrison. “All On A Misty Morning” is another “Wild Wood” era type slice of acoustic-influenced rock, albeit with a sumptuous, thumping bass line. Weller’s voice is excellent on this one - light and tender in places, strong in others. A fine performance.

“From The Floorboards Up” and “Come On, Let’s Go” are the two really vibrant, pumping crowd-pleasing rockers on the album.

“I Wanna Make It Alright” features another of those melodic, higher-pitched vocals and a gentle, bassy jazz sound to it. Thee are some genuinely lovely melodies on this album, maybe more so than on any other Weller album. The driving “Savages” has some late sixties Beatles echoes in its backing and more convincing Weller vocals. “Fly Little Bird” is  floaty and folky once more.

The shuffling, brush-drummmy “Roll On Summer” has Weller bluesily telling us that “old man river’s after you” getting jazzy and rustic again. It is a lovely track. Just when you are expecting more jazz-influenced stuff, Weller throws in a slab of funk in the upbeat and cooking “Bring Back The Funk”. “The Pebble And The Boy” is a piano-driven ballad in the style of many of Weller’s “final track on the album” closers. Very enjoyable - one of my favourite Weller albums.

B+

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