Releasing a recording like 22 Dreams, which doesn’t sound remotely like what he’s done previously, is nothing new for Paul Weller, who’s spent his career dodging pigeonholes and shrugging off tags and mantles thrust upon him. He’s a survivor. Weller’s fan-baffling ability to apply his considerable songwriting skill to different musical forms and contexts has allowed him to thrive over the course of nine albums while most of his punk-era contemporaries plan reunion tours to play the oldies.
The latest finds Weller digging into Pentangle-inspired Brit folk rock and Canterbury scene psych, even making a whimsical detour into trippy prog territory, egged on by Noel Gallagher and Gem Archer. And the clever choice of title provides the perfect “it was only a dream” safety valve for all the eccentric turns and mad experimental indulgences that don’t prove entirely successful. Well sharp.