Archive for the ‘Paul Weller’ Category

What a wild and wacky week it was. Without dwelling on the details, which would bore most folks, I’ll share this: It was somewhat prophetic that Paul Weller released “Movin On,” a track from his forthcoming True Meanings album, on Wednesday, August 1st.

The press release for the album says, “Paul’s 26th studio album is a record unlike any he has ever made before, characterised by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Paul’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited.”

Released into the wild a day earlier, Anna Calvi’s “Hunter” is as mesmerizing as it is restrained. Just when you think it’s about to explode into rapture, it pulls back. On Twitter, she explained that “I wanted simplicity, I wanted something quietly brave, quietly defiant. I wanted there to be intimacy. I wanted to find a place between beauty and ugliness.”

Neneh Cherry’s “Kong,” which was produced by Four Tet and Massive Attack’s 3D, is a stirring response to Europe’s refugee crisis. 

Jamie Lin Wilson – “The Being Gone.” So I don’t know much about Jamie Lin, but a few folks that I follow on Twitter retweeted this song, about returning home after an absence, and I liked what I heard. The bio on her website refers to her “honeyed tenor twang,” which I think is quite accurate.

First Aid Kit – “Running Up That Hill.” The sisters Söderberg covered the Kate Bush classic for a recent Spotify Singles session, and here they are performing it in concert… 

There’s no denying it: I’ve been in a Shelby Lynne frame of mind for the past few weeks. How could I not? But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been time for new music…

One of my favorite young acts, Hannah’s Yard, released a delightful four-song EP this weekend. Titled Revelations, it features renditions of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” Jack Johnson’s “Better Together” and Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home,” as well as their own “Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry” (from their 2017 Beginnings album). “Blackbird” is beautiful.

 

Hannah’s Yard hails from Olney, Buckinghamshire, the small British town that gave birth to “Amazing Grace.” About two hours south, in Surrey, lies Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studio, where the R&B/soul-infused Stone Foundation and assorted friends, including Weller and his former Style Council mates Mick Talbot and Steve White, recorded their forthcoming Everybody, Anyone album. The latest teaser track is “Carry the News”…

The singer-songwriter Amanda Shires released her self-made video for “Parking Lot Pirouette,” from her forthcoming album To the Sunset, last week. It features Shires on vocals and violin, husband Jason Isbell on acoustic and electric guitar, Dave Cobb on bass, Peter Levin on Wurlitzer and synthesizer, and Jerry Pentecost on drums.

Karrie O’Sullivan – “I Love You the Most.” Here’s another tantalizing track from the Irish singer-songwriter. It was released back in May, and I’ve enjoyed it since – but I was unaware that there was a video for it until just now. Like last summer’s single, “I Don’t Here You,” it’s quite addictive…

And because I am in a Shelby frame of mind…  here’s “Off My Mind,” one of the songs from her movie Here I Am. It was released back in April…and was a song we’d hoped to hear her perform in Ardmore.

Finally, one bonus… Shelby again, this time from just last night in Knoxville, Tenn., where she performed an a cappella version of Dusty’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”… “hypnotic” doesn’t begin to describe it.

We finished the second and final season of Joan of Arcadia yesterday. For those of you counting at home, that means we whipped through the 23 Season 1 episodes and 22 Season 2 episodes in exactly 22 days. One of the things I like about the series is that it avoids the typical pitfalls associated with dramas that explore faith and humanity. Within the show, as in real life, faith leads to questions, doubts and realizations, but never easy answers.

One of my favorite moments comes near the end of its run, in the “Common Thread” installment. God commands Joan to return to knitting, a hobby she stopped when she was a kid. As always, there’s far more to the episode than just that; we don’t just see Joan casting on, stitching and purling for the next 40+ minutes. I’ll skip the rest of the story, however, to the moment in question, when Joan gently rebuffs her folks, who are trying to ease her guilt regarding a bad decision made by her former boyfriend, Adam. “I mean, we’re all connected like the scarf. One piece of yarn, if you cut it up into little pieces, it’s useless. You can’t make anything out of it. I am responsible, partly. We all are…for everything that we touch and everything that touches us.”

It’s never us vs. them, as much as we sometimes wish it so. It’s us vs us. 

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: Of Questions & Faith (aka Joan of Arcadia, Part II)…

1) Kasey Chambers – “Abraham”

2) Van Morrison – “When Will I Ever Learn to Walk in God”

3) Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer – “Into My Arms”

4) Bruce Springsteen – “Rocky Ground”

5) Paul Weller – “Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)”

And two bonuses…

6) Natalie Merchant – “I May Know the Word”

7) Maria McKee and Bryan MacLean – “Sweet Dr. Jesus”

Last week, Diane and I began re-watching Season 1 of Joan of Arcadia, about a teen (Amber Tamblyn) who speaks to God – and by “speaks,” I mean has actual conversations and debates with Him. He – and She, as God changes bodies and genders episode to episode and often within episodes – often has what seems to Joan to be a mundane, silly or overwhelming task for her to perform, such as joining the chess club or debate team, or throwing a party. Inevitably, however, it leads to a larger, positive event occurring within Joan’s world.

Interwoven throughout are the stories of Joan’s family – her father (Joe Mantegna), a cop in a big (but not too big) Maryland city; her mother (Mary Steenburgen), who works at her school; older brother Kevin (Jason Ritter), who’s still coming to terms with being a paraplegic following a car accident a year-and-a-half earlier; and younger brother Luke (Michael Welch), a brainiac who should never, ever, drink caffeine.

That summary doesn’t do the series, which lasted a scant two seasons (2003-2005) justice, I should add. 

All in all, it’s good with glimmers of greatness. The cast is excellent. The stories are a mix of sweet and bittersweet, with some surprising grittiness thrown into the mix – and not just when focused on the father, who faces evil – and politics – on the job. The give-and-takes between Joan and God are adroit, funny, smart, and even philosophically deep. And the growing concern of Joan’s folks over her eccentric behavior rings true. (They don’t know about her pipeline to the above, after all.)

Anyway, it’s a series I wanted to watch when it first aired, but in those days we were often out on Friday nights, and OnDemand didn’t include much network fare. We’d unhooked our VHS recorder in favor of a DVD player by then, too, so recording it was out. I did keep an eye on the DVD sets when they became available (and when I remembered to look), but was unwilling to fork over the $45-60 per season retailers originally wanted to charge. I was also shocked by its lack of availability on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. But, finally, God heard my prayers: Two years back, I stumbled across a sweet deal on Amazon. ($16 per season. Woo hoo!) 

We watched it in about a month, filed the DVDs away, and moved on. As one does.

But, as I said at the outset, we’re watching it again. I love the philosophy behind it. The notion that a good deed, no matter how small, can cause a domino-like run of goodness in the wider world that eventually circles back to you is the essence of karma, which I’ve subscribed to since I first heard “The End” by the Beatles a long, long time ago: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” What we put out is what we take in. Good begets good.

And Joan of Arcadia begets a smile. It’s a perfect escape from the insanity that has befallen the world, where kindness is too often seen as a vice.

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: God, Faith & Joan…of Arcadia.

1) Joan Osborne – “One of Us.” The theme song to Joan of Arcadia is this song, written by Eric Brazilian of the Hooters. It reached No. 4 on the pop charts.

2) Courtney Marie Andrews – “May Your Kindness Remain.” Kindness, goodness, sympathy and empathy all go hand in hand. This clip is from Courtney’s appearance in the Paste Studios earlier this week…

3) The Stone Foundation with Paul Weller – “Your Balloon Is Rising.” The Stone Foundation has a new album in the works, but this one – from their last studio set, Street Rituals – says it all. “May your words go on forever/May your kindness show no measure/Keep on breathing your life into every little thing…”

4) Paul Weller – “Above the Clouds.” And speaking of Weller and clouds…

5) Rumer – “Love Is the Answer.” The British singer-songwriter’s cover of the Todd Rundgren song was a match made in heaven when she recorded it in 2015, and remains so three years later. Love is the answer, indeed.

And in the end… the Beatles – “The End.”