Paul Weller


Who thought Paul Weller had it in him? His new disc is a fully realized intercontinental soul-rock workout that thrums and shimmers with confidence. Illumination recalls such high watermarks as Rod Stewart’s Gasoline Alley and the best work of Steve Winwood in its characteristically guitar-powered English reinvention of American soul. It kicks off with the sublime “Going Places,” with a wall of 12-string guitars over a Hammond B-3, and doesn’t let up. Highlights include “Leafy Mysteries,” which begins very Byrds-like before morphing into a Guess Who-style R&B thumper. “It’s Written in the Stars,” already a huge hit in England, starts with a trumpet fanfare and B-3, and then swaggers like a champion. The lovely and sweet “Who Brings Joy” floats on poignant acoustic guitar. “Call Me No. 5” is a smoking, thumping paean to survival. Really, this is Weller’s best music since he fronted the Jam.