In '92, Paul Weller returned to the fray with his excellent eponymous debut solo album. The following year, he treated us to "Wild Wood", his second solo piece. He manages to channel his own influences into what has become an inspirational album for many of his Brit-Pop disciples. The criticisms levelled at the album, (and indeed Weller in general) usually fall along the "wears his influences on his sleeve" lines. To many, it isn't the fact that he credits his influences, more the fact that the results (in Wild Wood) are such a joy to behold. Weller has never been shy to cite artists worthy of his respect, and it seems unfair to penalise him for his honesty.
Wild Wood is an earthy, natural sounding album, with plenty of acoustic work and a few strangle-your-guitar-and-squawk-into-the-microphone moments. The album is enhanced by the understated yet noticeable production techniques of friend and collaborator Brendan Lynch. Weller's voice is by turns warm and gritty as necessary, his guitar style varied and efficient, and his compositions diverse yet cut-from-the-same-cloth. Steve White's punchy drum sound adds much to the album, never intrusive, but always supportive and interesting.
An album which sees Weller's career as a solo artist start to take shape after the fantastic, yet dissimilar first album, Wild Wood deserves a place in any record collection, as an example of a seasoned song-writer in top form.
I recommend the (Japanese) Pony Canyon release "More Wood" which collects b-sides and remixes from the same era, all of which are top-notch, and could have happily nestled in amongst the finalised "Wild Wood" track-listing.