Rating: * * * * *
As he hits his 50th year with eight solo albums already under his belt, as well as a further dozen in his time as the frontman of The Jam and Style Council, Paul Weller could be excused for taking it easy.
After all, he’ll forever remembered as the guy who swung from the anger of Eton Rifles to the languor of Long Hot Summer within a few confusing years.
His solo albums – save for Wild Wood and Stanley Road – have become increasingly interchangeable. Solid efforts but hard to take to heart, even if you’re a long-time follower of Britrock’s modfather.
But then along comes 22 Dreams.
If the only surprise with past Weller solo albums was which one of him was going to turn up first or most – folkWeller, soulWeller, or rockWeller – then this one confounds expectations. They all front up but so do a couple of other Wellerfellas, on a free-ranging double-album of multiple genres and personalities.
But somehow – though sheer energy and some robust songs interspersed among the experimental bits- this holds up.
After the strident folk-rock opener Light Nights, Weller is off on his own magical mystery tour.
Soon he’s channeling Marvin Gaye on Empty Ring, talking to the man upstairs on the spoken- word God, and getting melancholy on the keyboard on the Costelloesque ballad Invisible.
The indulgence this all craves is offset by a momentum frequently given a nudge by the rock sparks of the title track, as well as Push it Along and the Oasis-assisted Echoes Around the Sun.
It’s a long perplexing album from a guy seemingly tired of his own predictability. But it’s still a dream run.
New Zealand Herald