Home Read Classic Album Review: Paul Weller | Illumination

Classic Album Review: Paul Weller | Illumination

The former Jammer & Style Councillor stays in his rootsy singer-songwriter vein.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Back when Paul Weller was fronting mod-punk pioneers The Jam, you sometimes got the sense he aspired to be Pete Townshend. Well, 25 years later, Weller has indeed aged into an important British songwriter — only it’s Elvis Costello.

Illumination, his sixth solo album since the end of The Jam and Style Council, once again taps into the rootsy singer-songwriter vein that Weller has mined for about a decade now. On the majority of these 16 cuts, the guitars are strummy and shimmery, the melodies are pretty and gentle, the vocals are warm and soulful, the lyrics are thoughtful and intelligent. And Weller handles it all with the easy grace and quiet confidence of a seasoned veteran. Every now and then, like on the bouncing boogie-rocker A Bullet for Everyone or the power-chord bridges of Leafy Mysteries, he cranks up the amps just enough to let you know he’s still a fan of Pete. And he warmly welcomes some fans of his own — a queue of Britpop stars including Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer of Oasis, along with members of Stereophonics and Ocean Colour Scene who show up to bend the kneed and kiss the ring. But ultimately, the songs are the real stars of Weller’s universe. He just provides the Illumination.