Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wild Wood

'Wild Wood' from 1993 remains veteran British rocker and certified Modfather Paul Weller's most accomplished solo album, and it's not easy to see why. Self-assured and forward-thinking for the most part, 'Wild Wood' also constitutes a sort of loose concept album, with the primary narrator on a personal vision quest in search of redemption. The natural authority of its melodies and its inspired musical blend of pop, soul and folk also provide additional heft to its stature, making it also Weller's most stylistically varied record.

What is most remarkable about 'Wild Wood' is the fact that its songs just as evocative and atmospheric as they were upon their original release. There could never be a more apt opening than the confident power-pop of 'Sunflower', no other open-hearted confessional than the pastoral folk-pop of 'Wild Wood', and no other riff-based rocker as charged as 'The Weaver'. Elsewhere, 'All the Pictures on the Wall' has Weller questioning his artistic self-worth over a loping, blues-based groove, while 'Can You Heal Us Holy Man' mines a catchy, gospel-soul vein to wonderful effect. 'Has My Fire Really Gone Out' is another outstanding, ragged-but-right rocker, and its intensity is matched by the Traffic-informed, mid-tempo groover 'Fifth Season'. Also worth mentioning are the slower numbers here, like the gentle, earthy 'Country' and the jazzy, nocturnal 'Moon on Your Pyjamas', a lullaby written for Weller's son. The closing, eight-minute 'Shadow of the Sun' is a progressive rock-influenced epic that brings the album's overall theme of soul-searching to a satisfactory ending.

In short, the singular creative focus and all-round quality of 'Wild Wood' does make it a key record in the 90s Brit-pop movement, and it's an admirable example of how terrific traditional rock can sound in the hand of the right craftsman. What really makes 'Wild Wood' the arguable apex of Weller's career is the way it harmonises all the essential elements of his artistry into a coherent whole: the persuasive songwriting, the thoughtfully crafted production values, and of course, the always consummate and absorbed playing. For those reasons, any dyed-in-the-wool rock aficionado will be compelled to affirm that 'Wild Wood' truly possesses an edge over the rest of Weller's solo work and comprises a great rock album on its own.


Post a Comment

<< Home