Prolific is one of the words most often used when describing Paul Weller. Through his music with The Jam, The Style Council and his solo albums Paul Weller has continued to challenge himself and push boundaries. On Sunset is his fifteenth solo album, just let that sink in for a moment. This is a man who has spent the whole of his adult life as a pop star, has never settled for the easy option, has lived his life in the belief that his next piece of work will be his best yet. After several listens to On Sunset the evidence is there that this latest release certainly ranks high amongst Weller’s catalogue of work and shows this is a man who is still overflowing with ideas and creativity.
That said I have to be completely honest, on first listen I was not as inspired as I thought I would be. However, after spending more time and days listening to this album I have come to the conclusion that those initial thoughts and feelings I had towards On Sunset says more about me and perhaps the mood I was in when I first gave it a listen. For someone who has loved Weller from a very early age since my older cousins got me into The Jam there really is nothing not to like about On Sunset. It sees Weller reflecting on his life, thinking about the future and combining soul and funk in a way that only he can do.
The album is full of highlights including the incredibly ambitious opener that is Mirror Ball. A seven and a half minute song that takes you on a wonderful journey full of soul, funk, disco and will basically give you an out of body experience. Old Father Thyme is set to wistful melodies, and is full of wisdom which sees Weller considering the time that we have on this earth and the importance of holding on to love and what is real. Village is simply perfect, the song structure will make you smile from inside out. The lyrics are full of reflection and will make each and every listener stop and look at their own lives and appreciate the world that we live in “I don’t need all the things you hold in high regard, they mean nothing at all”. More also adopts a similar theme about taking stock and realising that it is the little things that matter in life. Many of us spend time filling our lives with stuff which we simply don’t need “The more we get, the more we lose”.
The title track is one that so many of us will relate to, we all look back at places we have been to in our lives, places that we spent so much time in, places that meant so much to us but no longer belong to us. “All the places that we used to go belong to a time, someone else’s life another time”. How amazing is this lyric? Seriously, does anyone want to argue about giving Paul Weller the title of Genius. Paul Weller has never shyed away from his influences. David Bowie has had a huge influence on his life as he has on the life of most people on Planet Earth. Equanimity sees Weller nodding in the direction of one of his heroes. Rockets is a great song to end the album with a string arrangement from Hannah Peel that will evoke emotions in you that perhaps you did not know where there. Lyrically Rockets shows that Weller still has that political edge “All or lives, the system still decides, the institution’s old but still in control”.
There are some musicians who I simply could not imagine my life without. I really would hate to see myself in a parallel universe where I had never been introduced to the music and fashion of Paul Weller. Not that he is showing any sign of slowing down or leaving us any time soon, however, On Sunset has arrived at the right time and serves as a timely reminder of the need to appreciate the greats whilst they are sharing their art with us.