ModernSky UK (CD, LP)
By John Curley
Recorded at studios in the English locales of Surrey and Devon and produced by Ocean Colour Scene guitarist and Paul Weller sideman Steve Cradock, this album shines and shimmers. The instrumentation, often perfectly understated, never overwhelms Weller’s vocals. And the album contains no filler. All of its tracks are highly listenable. Weller’s vocal style is a very appealing jazz/pop hybrid. She’s got a great voice.
The gorgeous title track opens the proceedings and sets the pace for the rest of the album’s tracks by providing Weller’s vocals room to breathe. That is followed by “Wonder,” which is really smooth with great horns and a powerful but measured vocal by Weller. It is a perfect pop single. The ethereal “Pale Blue Sky” is a mellow song with a nice flow to it. Weller’s vocal on the song is quite beautiful.
Weller wrote “Dive In” with her father on the day she told him that he was going to be a grandfather. It’s an easygoing song with a terrific chilled-out vibe. “Change” features a strong vocal by Weller, and it features piano and vocal for about the first minute or so before the other instruments kick in. The strings on the track are quite nice. The beautiful “Call Me By Your Name” features perfect instrumental backing of Weller’s terrific vocal. There is an effective echo on the backing vocals in the song’s midsection. It’s one of the standout tracks on the album.
“Strangers” starts off a bit jazzy with a strong Weller vocal in the intro and evolves into a pop-rock tune. “Summer At Last” is a ‘60s-style pop song that is upbeat and fun. It provides a nice vocal showcase for Weller and features some great saxophone playing at the tail end of the song.
“Reason” features mellow instrumentation with a strong Weller vocal and is another standout track on the album. “Unity” has a disjointed opening with off-kilter music and ambient sounds. That gives way to piano and Weller’s vocal before the rest of the musicians join in. It’s quite lovely. There is excellent guitar work toward the end of the song.
Weller’s soulful vocal drives “Something Sacred.” The fuzztone guitar on the track makes it something of a rocker. Weller’s vocal builds in strength as the song goes on. Closing track “Butterflies” features terrific acoustic guitar, a nice vocal by Weller and impressive work by the strings.
With the right promotion and a decent amount of radio airplay, this album could do very well. It certainly deserves to. Weller has proven here that she is an artist of significant talent and should not be mistaken for someone that is simply riding her parents’ coattails. I look forward to hearing her future work.
The music video for “Freedom” can be seen below:
The music video for “Wisdom” can be seen below:
The music video for “Something Sacred” can be seen below:
The music video for “Strangers” can be seen below:
The music video for “Change” can be seen below: