From mod rocker to blue-eyed soulster, Paul Weller has worn many hats during his 25-year tenure as a musician and songwriter. "Illumination" marks his latest incarnation, and while he's often pegged as a miserable sod, this album proves that the prolific Brit is a true romantic, embracing life. A master of soul-stirring chord progressions, dreamy melodies and soulful grooves, Weller moves effortlessly from the lush longing of "One x One," to the sultry rasp of "Call Me No. 5," a cigarette-infused, throaty duet with Stereophonics' Kelly Jones. Other cameos include members of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and ex-Stone Rose Aziz Ibrahim, but there's no question that this is Weller's gig all the way. His soaring vocals impress like never before, and these are some of the best songs of his career. All of his influences seem manifest here, be it French pop, Motown or Nick Drake. And his famed socio-political consciousness is ever-present on "A Bullet for Everyone" with its punchy, bluesy twang. Running the gamut from stripped-down, guitar-and-vocal compositions to complexly layered arrangements that favor sarod and tamboura, "Illumination" is a journey through a wide breadth of human emotion, flawlessly in step with Paul Weller's ever-changing moods.
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