It’s better late than never to review the new solo album from the former frontman of The Jam.

Artist: Paul Weller
Album: As Is Now
Year: 2005

Even before Paul Weller started his successful solo career, the major contributions he made to music were clearly evident. As the leader of one of the most successful British bands of all time, The Jam, he constructed a sound that was a clear definition of British punk rock in the late 70s and early 80s. After The Jam disbanded and he formed the smoother and lighter The Style Council, he found success but after a time, Weller tired of their sound and found that forming a solo career would let him explore different genres in a more sophisticated manner. A self-titled debut was released in 1992 to warm reception. Any bands fronted by Weller never really found true success in America, though the followings in Britain and Japan were ecstatic. The popular Britpop movement in the 1990s was often credited to Weller as well, as bands such as Ocean Colour Scene and even the hard nosed Oasis gave much influential praise to Weller.

Weller’s newest album, As Is Now, doesn’t stray too far from his previous releases as far as the general sound goes. A mixture of blues, R&B, and general rock is utilized in an organized manner. Weller’s admiration of Motown is also visible in many songs. Though Weller remains distant from his old sound of The Jam, he occasionally has his moments. “Come On/Let’s Go” reflects several songs by The Jam, and this is immediately recognized when an acoustic guitar kicks off the song with drums, bass, and an electric guitar eventually toppling into the mix. Energetic gems such as “From The Floorboards Up” and “Blink And You’ll Miss It” allow the album to have an able flow, without slower paced songs such as “The Start Of Forever” sounding misplaced in the middle of things. One of Weller’s major assets is that he knows how to sprinkle various instruments around the album. Many artists needlessly throw in violins or trumpets into random intros and verses for the sake of trying not to sound repetitive, but Weller goes the distance and incorporates it into several songs as a whole, in a beautiful and delicate form. “Pan” incorporates a stunning piano with a heartfelt violin over Weller’s emotional vocals to create a very memorable experience. A saxophone is also used to a full effect in the soothing “Roll Along Summer” with steady and consistent drums.

On a lyrical standpoint, nothing in particular stands out though ballads such as “The Pebble And The Boy” and “I Wanna Make It Right” show Weller’s lyrical talents, though his harder based blues songs often show an embarrassing and elementary lyrical aspect. While “Blink And You’ll Miss It” is one of the strongest tracks on the album, the lyrics are more focused on rhyming than actual solid material, and when Weller rhymes such words as ‘clouds’ with ‘loud’, it is fine and all, but when there is no substantial meaning in the lyric, it occasionally represents a problem. A true gem is shown later in the album, with “Savages” displaying why Weller is still at the top of his game. Creating catchy and great melodies is what Weller is known best for, and “Savages” is likable from the first listen with verse and chorus gliding easily one into the other. While comparisons to Weller are far from easy to make, Eric Clapton’s musical career seems surprising relevant. While As Is Now will not bust open any surprising surging American sales, any fans of Paul Weller will be completely satisfied with an album that shows Weller’s craftsmanship in full form.

Rating: 6.8/10

01. Blink And You’ll Miss It
02. Paper Smile
03. Come On/Let’s Go
04. Here’s The Good News
05. The Start Of Forever
06. Pan
07. All On A Misty Morning
08. From The Floorboards Up
09. I Wanna Make It Alright
10. Savages
11. Fly Little Bird
12. Roll Along Summer
13. Bring Back The Funk (pts 1 & 2)
14. The Pebble And The Boy

= Track Recommendation

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. […] As the former frontman of the legendary The Jam, Paul Weller’s solo career has been nothing short of exciting and fulfilling. His newest album, As Is Now, was released last year. It was a pretty good album, in which I wrote a review of here. ‘Blink And You’ll Miss It’ was the first track of the album, and it opened it in grand fashion. Weller takes a Clapton-like approach in his catchiest song in quite some time. ——————— […]

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