on 7 November 2002
After Paul's patchy last 2 albums, namely 1997's soulless "Heavy Soul" and 2000's moody 'Heliocentric,' I was expecting more of the same with 'Illumination' just being another flashy title to sell another run of the mill album. Fortunately, I have been spectacularly proved wrong. Maybe all his touring since after the 'Heliocentric' album has brought back his inspiration. The first thing the listener notices is the improved production. Brendan Lynch has been dropped and although his production was amazing on 'Wild Wood' and 'Stanley Road' it soon became repetitive and unfocused on 'Heavy Soul' and 'Heliocentric.' Paul has produced himself with some help on some tracks from Simon Dine. The instruments are all beautifully clear and this allows the melody to shine in each song. There are 13 tracks and each deserves its place on the album. The opener, 'Going Places', is one of a number of acoustic delights. Other acoustic type songs include the lush 'Leafy Mysteries,' 'Who Brings Joy,' 'All Good Books' and the closer 'Illumination.' They are all as good as anything on Wild Wood. This album also has a better balance then the previous two as there are some rockers as well such as 'A Bullet For Everyone' and 'Call Me No.5.' 'It's Written in the Stars' is clearly Paul's best single since 1996's Peacock Suit. 'Now the Night is Here' and 'Standing Out in the Universe' are also spectacular songs. The main thing with this album though is that it as many have already stated the title does ring true. It is Paul's happiest album and so much better then the previous two which were the work of an unhappy, moody man entering his 40s. It is definitely already on par with Stanley Road and only time will tell if it is his best album but it certainly could be even better than Wild Wood due to it's superb songwriting and warm atmosphere. Do buy it it is one of the best albums of the year and it will "illuminate" those dark autumn and winter evenings.
on 9 August 2015
Maybe Weller's best solo album. I love him from Style Council (not much his Car's discography, which I find too basic) and here you can find some of that atmosphere and nice tunes and melodies. Subtly melancolic and nostalgic, soft and somehow experimental, it's a very good mix of genres and flavors. I love Written in Stars, All Good Books, Standing in the Universe.
on 29 October 2002
Pre-release this was being hyped up as Wellers best solo work yet. While it may take a little while longer, and a few more listens to achieve this accolade, it is certainly a fantastic album.
However, the first couple of times I listened to it, it didn't really grab me. But once it clicks with you, the brilliance of this record becomes clear. To me it sounds like a mix of 'Paul Weller', 'Wild Wood' and 'Stanley Road'. There are certainly the light, pastoral touches that graced 'Wild Wood' in place here, and on tracks like 'A Bullet For Everyone' you can hear elements of 'Stanley Road'.
This album changes paces and styles at will, veering from summer accoustic sounds (Now the Night is Here) to reflective-yet-uplifting (One X One) to blues-rock (Call Me No.5), which creates a very refreshing album.
Stand out tracks are the superb, summery sounding 'It's Written In the Stars', the soaring 'Standing Out In the Universe' and the magnificent title track.
In short, this album isn't dad-rock, or NAM, or any of those annoying tags. This album is a fantastic demonstration of one mans song-writing and playing abilities. This is one of the freshest and best albums I've heard in a long while. Roll on the next album.
on 28 May 2003
Illumination is a good title for this LP, as the mood is lighter and the production crisper than on his last LP, Helioentric, which sounded in parts like the work of an unhappy man who’d just hit 40. In fact, Illumination is the most up-beat and positive LP Weller has crafted since his solo debut. Much of the angsty griping of yore has been replaced by songs of celebration (Who Brings Joy, It’s Written in the Stars), wonderment (Leafy Mysteries), and love (Now the Night is Here). There are plenty of good tunes, and a mood piece (yes, a mood piece).
Stomping gripe-rock numbers get a rare look-in in the forms of ‘A Bullet for Everyone’ and ‘Call me No.5’. But these songs now sound a bit retro-macho, whereas five years ago they wouldn’t have. He continues to mature, like all of us, and so, on the rest of the album Paul Weller sounds mellower, writing more from the heart. In doing so he sounds authentic, contemporary, and soulful. As with all Paul Weller albums, there are some great musical moments, nay, events, within great songs. For example, the swirling, descending strings in the coda of ‘Now the Night is Here’ flip an impassioned love song within seconds into a nightmarish existential question. Minimalist brilliance.
Paul Weller is also singing better than ever. He has a truly great voice, something which never grabbed me so forcefully before this album. If you are passionate about great songwriting and artistry expressed within the rock and similar idioms, then I would unhesitatingly recommend this LP.
Paul Weller's voice and music was sounding as good as ever when he released his sixth solo album in 2002. If it wasn't for 'Stanley Road', 'Illumination' might actually be my favourite out of all of his albums, because there isn't a single track on it that I'd skip over.
Highlights include the breezy opener 'Going Places', the beautiful 'Leafy Mysteries', the bluesy 'Call Me No.5', which is a duet with Stereophonics' singer Kelly Jones, and the acoustic-sounding 'One x One', a collaboration with Oasis's Gem Archer and Noel Gallagher.
Perfect for driving, walking, or just relaxing in the Summer, 'Illumination' creates a wonderful feeling whenever you listen to it, and is of consistently high quality. This is one album that should satisfy not only avid fans of this song-writing great, but to people who just appreciate good, uplifting music.
Diehard Weller fans though will probably want to get their hands on the limited edition version, Illumination [CD + DVD], which includes a bonus DVD featuring three live songs filmed at The 'Route of Kings', Hyde Park, and the music video for the single 'It's Written In The Stars'.
on 20 January 2013
Melodic, inspired and heartfelt lyrics. A soon as I heard We're Going Places I knew this would be one of my favourite albums. I've been raving about it to everyone! Up there with Stanley Road. You have to hear this one.
on 1 September 2009
Illumination casued more consternation amongfst fans than just about any other album he's worked on. First of all was the wait, two years was the standard waiting time, but the Weller camp had been unusually quiet about it. Then in a blaze of publicity it came; festival shows given over to the new work, taxis playing the music exclusively, and positive advance reviews. Several things had changed; firstly Brendan Lynch was no longer behind the mixing desk for the first time, the album was mainly just Weller and long time drummer Steve White, and after the dark spiky revious two albums the joyous nature of the songs was like a breath of fresh air. Weller was getting politcal and current in his lyrics at times. In many ways this a precursor to 2008's 22 Dreams, Weller locked in his studio inviting guests in to play on various tracks.
Going Places; the first time a Weller album had opened with a gentle, breezy track, and sounds none the worse for it. A summery accoustic soul ballad about the simple job of being in love.
A Bullet For Everyone; harder edged track about the war and violence that seemed to explode from 9/11, Weller bemoaning the fact that while food is scarce in parts of the world, we have more than enough means to kill everyone on the planet, set to a rocking track whcih borrows liberally from Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky.
Leafy Mysteries; based on the title of a Postman Pat book apparently! Light accoustic tinged rock with harder edged sections in the instrumentals, backed by OCS friends Minchella and Craddock.
It's Written In The Stars; the lead single made people stop, stand and stare. Happy lyrics? Samples? Was this a solo Weller single? It gave him a top five hit, and caused many people to reassess as Weller sang about the joys of life to his own soulful playing and sampled horns from Simon Dine of Noonday Underground.
Who Brings Joy; Paul McCartney style accoustic musing about his then new born son. A gentler moment after the opening rush of the album, with some nice playing by Steve Craddock.
Now The Night Is Here; A more straightforward collaboration with Simon Dine, a gentle accoustic love song with various keyboards and samples colouring in the pieces inbetween.
Spring (At Last); Aziz Ibrahim joins on this mid album break of an instrumental. This music would playuer Welelr on to the stage during the album's tour.
One x One; recorded with Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer at Noel's studio, this is an odd semi accoustic dark sounding song, which feels at odds with the rest of the record in tone at times, but sweeps the listener along with it's epic tint.
Bag Man; Another accoustic ditty, played entirely with Weller and White, musing on the plight of one homeless character, and in classic Weller style.
All Good Books; Weller rails at the corruption extremists take on religious texts they claim to hold sacred. Again a semi accoustic sound under what is one of the finest vocal performances Weller has commited to disc.
Call Me No.5. Demoed musically, but unable to finish it, Weller turned to Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics for the lyrics. The result is this blues rock duet set to what is almost free form poetry.
Standing Out In The Universe; A stand out show closer at the times. Using the same musical tack as first album Bitterness Rising, this goes further, with soulful backing singing from Carleen Anderson and Jocelyn Brown and enthusiastic playing from Croddock, Whuite, Minchella and Dine.
Illumination; A parting shot. Weller and accoustic guitar musing on finding 'the light', whatever that may be for him. A calming down.
on 21 April 2003
After having much fun getting comfortable with his back catalogue (after years of Jam denial!) on the solo acoustic tour, Paul Weller gets down to business. Illumination is a thoughtfully crafted piece of work, with many textures. Quite an upbeat slant runs through - check out the confident march of 'Going Places', Jericho trumpets on 'It's Written In The Stars', the dedication to his child 'Who Brings Joy' that means it while managing not to be a mawkish filler, etc. A good mix of rockers (A Bullet for Everyone', 'Call Me No. 5') and balladry (Leafy Mysteries, One X One, Bagman), nodding back to the Wildwood days but not retreading material in a redundant way.
Weller is good value for B-sides. The import version throws in two rockers, 'Horseshoe Drama' and 'Talisman', for good value.
on 25 August 2006
So the man delivers his best single since the days of The Style Council in "It's Written In The Stars."
He matches it with "Leafy Mysteries" and delivers on the charming "Now The Night Is Here." Collaborating with Simon Dine of Noonday Underground adds a charm to these excellent tunes which makes for one of the freshest sounds Weller has made since 1992's debut solo effort.
The guests here, however, are not so welcome. Kelly Jones rasping through the chugging "Call Me No 5" adds the stodge factor.
"Who Brings Joy" should have been left in the studio and "Spring (At Last)" is directionless and forgettable.
"Standing Out..." is very likeable and the closer "Illumination" is both haunting and charming, one of the best album closers for Mr Weller of the solo years.
So the verdict then... once again, some a handful of excellent tunes - maybe one classic - but this is not THE Weller solo album some of us are still hanging on for. The man's got it in him. It's just a matter of time.
on 3 March 2006
I think this is one of Paul's best solo albums. Many of the tracks are melodic and soulful. Personal favourites are Going Places and Leafy Mysteries, which are very beautiful.