Paul Weller - Jawbone: Music From The Film album review

The Modfather delivers a cinematic knockout

Cover art for Paul Weller's Jawbone soundtrack

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Weller’s first soundtrack not only complements Jawbone, a semi-autobiographical Ken Loach-meets-Rocky Balboa tale of a former youth boxing champion rejoining the game ‘desperately in search of hope in all the wrong places’, its evocative moods even helped shape screenwriter and star Johnny Harris’s final script.

You should never underrate Weller. Jawbone is not only accomplished, it’s also occasionally stunning. Its opening track is 21-and-a-half minutes of twisting moods and soundscapes. Guitars feed back atmosphere, treated pianos possess, ambient drones paint mindscapes, cellos mourn, concrète found sounds drift in and out of focus. Eleven minutes in, pounding rock dissonance punctuates briefly, before the final four minutes feature one of Weller’s finest, richest, most mature and assured vocal performances to date.

Jimmy/Blackout may not be as prissy and mannered as the work we’ve come to expect from Scott Walker, but it’s most certainly punching at a similar weight. Elsewhere there’s the acoustic intimacy of The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe (Weller’s vocal, once again, a revelation) and Bottle (vintage stuff and yet another highlight), Jawbone’s malevolent wah-wah groove, Jawbone Training with jabbing ride and punchy bass drum (and Ray Winstone, characteristically drowning in Lear-y gravitas), the audio-described inner turmoil of Man On Fire and barely controlled feedback-driven End Fight Sequence where time itself seems to drift into oblivion. Inspiring stuff that only points to ever more fascinating vistas for Weller to explore.

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Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.