Like Stanley Road
before it, Heavy Soul
is more about vibe than songs. There are a few sharply written tracks here and there, but what's important is the rootsy, stripped-down atmosphere. Paul Weller
's soul and R&B influences reign supreme on Heavy Soul
, yet they are filtered through late-'60s psychedelia, blues-rock and prog folk, as he takes songs into extended instrumental jams. The band sounds tight, but Weller
has suffered a bit of a songwriting slump, which is evidenced by the handful of keepers that form the core of the album. "Up in Suze's Room" is a hazy, folky gem, the soulful apology "I Should Have Been There to Inspire You" is affecting, and "Peacock Suit" is a fine "Changing Man" rewrite, but too much of Heavy Soul
is concerned with texture instead of content. That doesn't make it a difficult listen -- in fact, it's quite entertaining while it's playing -- but there isn't much to explore on repeated plays.