The recent tragic death of American grunge rocker Chris Cornell makes one appreciate the seasoned alt-rock icons who are still going strong.
One of them surely has to be British pioneer Paul Weller, who has consistently put out relevant music since his early days with influential punk rockers The Jam in the 1970s. The 58-year-old, hailed as the Modfather for his pivotal role in the mod movement, a sub-culture centred on music and fashion, is still at it.
A Kind Revolution, his 13th solo album, is brimming with life-affirming anthems - tunes that jump out at you with their sheer vitality.
Weller seems to have tapped the wide range of genres that populate his vast, four-decade-long discography, from the urgency of The Jam to the blue-eyed soul output from his 1980s duo, The Style Council.
Yet, this is no mere blast-fromthe-past rehash. The songs feel current, with Weller sounding more hopeful than he has ever been.
Despite past break-ups (he recently told reporters that he cannot retire because he has divorce settlements to upkeep), the man has not given up on romance and can write a most affecting love song, as exemplified in orchestral, soul-pop gem Long Long Road ("It's a long, long road that we walk together, but as one/There's no longer two, oh, me and you").
A KIND REVOLUTION
New York is a vibrant tune with a slinky bass line that does not quit and a bridge designed to fire up the dance floor, while album opener Woo Se Mama is a brassy, Hammond-organ led, New Orleans- style jam.
Weller gets a little help from some distinctive friends in several tracks. A rough-sounding Boy George sings heartily on the minimalist disco of One Tear and Robert Wyatt from jazz-rock institution Soft Machine lends his vocal and trumpet-playing on jazz-funk stomper She Moves With The Fayre.
Gospel-tinged The Cranes Are Back sees him playing with a double entendre (the "cranes" in the song are both the avian and mechanical kind).
"In some cultures, the cranes coming back, any birds coming back, is a sign of good fortune, so I kind of used that atmosphere. And in London now, when I see mechanical cranes going up and building starting to happen and people spending money again, I see that as a rejuvenation or rebirth. So I kind of mixed the metaphor," he told Billboard in a recent interview.
With lyrics that celebrate hope and renewal, A Kind Revolution is a much-needed salve for troubling times.