Illumination (Independiente) The Jam man, an ex-Style Councillor or the Modfather, think of him as you will, but there is no getting away from the fact that Paul Weller has always had an ear for a good tune. And so it is on Illumination. Following 2000's largely disappointing Heliocentric, great things were expected of this release and it has indeed delivered. Producing the album himself, and playing most of the instruments, Weller has managed to draw together the strands of his past into a neat package of the present, albeit a fairly predictable one - but did you really expect shocks? It's not invention that Weller trades on, but polished presentation. This time around, he has been joined by a plethora of friends but, unfortunately, they hinder as much as they help. On the positive side, some retro-sounding 'fx' by Simon Dine (aka Noonday Underground) gives the record an occasional vinyl feel (hear It's Written In The Stars) and the Stereophonics' Kelly Jones lends his raspy vocals to the dirty Call Me No 5 - a song he co-wrote. Elsewhere, the ubiquitous Noel Gallagher plays drums and bass on One X One. With Carleen Andersen and Jocelyn Brown helping out on vocals, Weller's guests occasionally come close to outstaying their welcome. The songs themselves touch all the familiar points of Weller's compass. Opener Going Places drifts by in an mid-paced acoustic fug before things toughen up with the glam-stomp of A Bullet For Everyone. Weller displays his love of the Who (yet again) on Leafy Mysteries and of soul on single It's Written In The Stars. Now The Night Is Here comes over all Bacharach with strings and horns prominent over a downplayed country twang, while sitar and flute get a look in on the wordless Spring (At Last). Illumination dims a little towards the end - the aforementioned Call Me No 5 excepted - before closing with the tender title track. All in all though, a fine addition to any record collection that has followed Weller's wanderings and a welcome return to form from the man himself.