Only Paul Weller could create an album like A Kind Revolution—so stylistically rich and diverse, yet still be able to pull it off. Though, if you think about it, there shouldn’t be much surprise at all—style is what the man they call “The Modfather” does best, ever since his days as frontman for The Jam, and later as co-founder of The Style Council.
Right out of the gate, A Kind Revolution rips through the speakers with the hard-rocking “Woo Se Mama”—a warning against conformity, complacency, and greed. Over a howling guitar riff and a whirling Hammond organ, Weller cautions that he can’t be fooled by those that acquiesce to falling in line, doing only what they’re told, and suddenly falling in love with the things they once hated. Almost like a taunt, Weller snickers over the infectious groove, declaring “once that flame don’t burn so bright, it’s slow death by candlelight,” and—in case it’s not obvious—Weller is having none of that. The album’s first single, “Nova,” depicts Weller in a futuristic daydream, where his mind is racing, and his soul is being tugged at repeatedly by the impulse of obligation; there’s still so much to do, the artist urges. To whom Weller feels obliged, it is not clear. But one thing is clear: the fantasy of “Nova”—of building a new planet, and beaming communications through the cosmos—could almost be identical to many an escapist’s views on the chaos that is taking place here, right on Earth.
A Kind Revolution is not a socially heady album in its entirety. Weller breaks away momentarily from the complexity of humanity with an ode to his wife, on the Latin American-flavored “New York.” Throughout the track, Weller recollects a chance meeting, and how it leads to a life of eternal gratefulness. Noting that in life, sometimes there isn’t even a moment to think, Weller relishes the moment to thank the most important person in his. Elsewhere, love strikes again, this time in the solid grooves of “She Moves with the Fayre.” Weller’s endless surprise at the object of his desire—the delirium of just knowing there is so much left to discover of her—slips and slides, until it lands flat in a fat disco break, connected by two passages of funk that couldn’t be contained if you tried. The fanfare carries on, all while Weller delivers the vocal with barely more than a whisper.
Despite these soulful detours, A Kind Revolution starts where it began; far from a political record (there’s no traces of Billy Bragg here), the album may still prove to be nuanced by the social situation of many of its listeners. The album’s title refers to a lyric from “The Cranes are Back,” a gospel song at heart that aims to declare the desire of hope. As the United Kingdom navigates the complexities of Brexit, and America struggles to reconcile itself with the realities of its latest leader, Weller instead reminds us of the joy that freedom can bring—though, only if we could “pick ourselves up off the floor, try to heal the land once more…. There would be some hope in the world.” Weller’s plea isn’t particularly in vain. He knows the power is in the people—all mod-rock space odysseys, aside.