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As Is Now

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Album Review

If 2002's Illumination was a warm, laid-back record, Paul Weller's 2005 sequel, As Is Now — a likeable but unremarkable covers album, Studio 150, appeared in the interim — is its flip side, a lean, hard-hitting soulful rock & roll album. Not that Weller is returning to the sound of the Jam: he's still with the same band that he's been with since Wild Wood, anchored by drummer Steve White and featuring Ocean Colour Scene members guitarist Steve Cradock and bassist Damon Minghella, and he's working the same musical territory, grounded in Traffic, Humble Pie, '60s soul, and guitar pop. There may be absolutely no surprises here — even the change of pace "The Start of Forever" is reminiscent of many of his gentler folky tunes, echoing Illumination's mellow vibe — but for as familiar as As Is Now is, it never sounds lazy; it's a tighter, better record than most of his late-'90s albums. The closest antecedent to As Is Now in Weller's solo catalog is Heavy Soul. Like that 1997 effort, this is a straightforward, no-frills record, heavy on rockers and with few pretensions, but where that album could drift, this is focused and exciting, boasting a stronger set of songs and livelier performances, plus a greater variety of colors and textures in the production. Those subtle differences wind up making a huge difference in the overall effect of As Is Now — on the surface, it certainly sounds familiar to what came before, but thanks to Weller's muscular, memorable songs and musicianship, it stands apart as one of his more satisfying solo albums.

Customer Reviews

As Is Now

Listeners of As Is Now, the latest release from Paul Weller, will undoubtedly hear the influences and styles that have been a part of this talented musician's nearly thirty years in studios or on stage. Weller has recently become rejuvenated because of his teenage children's listening habits. This latest body of work offers hard-driving songs dominated by Weller's talented and respected guitar work in Blink and You'll Miss It, Come On/Let's Go and From The Floorboards Up. But perhaps the most endearing quality of Paul Weller's music is that not only can he play good old fashion rock and roll, or punk in the case of his early Jam days, but he is also probably one of the most underated soul singers of his generation. While some of his latest work incorporated a bit more on the soulful ballad style, As Is Now is a perfect mix offering a unique listening experience that offers variety on every cut, including a seven minute cut called Bring Back the Funk that holds true to its' title. AlthoughPaul Weller has never had widespread acclaim in the United States, that's just fine with those of us who have enjoyed his many styles and inspirations, we'll enjoy our little secret and As Is Now is the freshest one yet.

A Triumph

Paul Weller has been one of England's biggest hit makers for nearly 30 years at this point—first with The Jam, then later The Style Council and currently as a solo performer—but he's never been more than a cult figure here in the U.S. I've given up trying to figure out exactly why that is, but I do recommend that anyone not familiar with his music give it a listen—and this album is an excellent place to start. One of Weller's strongest solo efforts yet, AS IS NOW incorporates elements from all phases of his career: "From the Floorboards Up" and "Come On/Let's Go" recall the Mod/punk passion of The Jam, while the diverse sounds of "Roll Along Summer," "Bring Back the Funk (Pts. 1 and 2) and "The Pebble and the Boy" wouldn't be out of place on a Style Council album. Other highlights include the raucous opener "Blink and You'll Miss It," the Beatle-esque "Here's the Good News" and the gorgeous "The Start of Forever." Few artists make the journey from energetic newcomer to elder statesman, but AS IS NOW proves the 47-year-old Weller has done so with both style and grace.

Something For All

Overall one of Weller's strongest albums since Wild Wood. The mix of styles he presents on this album has something for fans from each phase of his career (The Jam, The Style Council, and solo). "Blink..." and "Come On/Let's Go" are classic mod-rock, while "The Start of Forever" and "Roll Along Summer" are beautiful, soulful acoustic pieces. With a generous 14 songs, there is plenty for long-time fans and those new to Weller's work to enjoy. Highly recommended!

Biography

Born: May 25, 1958 in Woking, Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As the leader of the Jam, Paul Weller fronted the most popular British band of the punk era, influencing legions of English rockers ranging from his mod revival contemporaries to the Smiths in the '80s and Oasis in the '90s. During the final days of the Jam, he developed a fascination with Motown and soul, which led him to form the sophisti-pop group the Style Council in 1983. As the Style Council's career progressed, Weller's interest in soul developed into an infatuation with jazz-pop and house...
Full Bio