For the first time in his long career, Paul Weller has recorded his first-ever full film score / soundtrack project, entitled Jawbone: Music From The Film. This is the first new music from Weller since his universally praised 2014 album Saturns Pattern. The film's star, writer, and co-producer is the BAFTA-nominated actor Johnny Harris – a long-time fan of Weller's. He approached the singer a few years ago through a mutual friend on the off-chance he would be interested. However, all that existed at that point was the script – no cast and no budget – but Weller was keen and a great partnership, and friendship, were forged.
"Paul would constantly send through any new ideas, demos, or recordings, and what was unique and beautiful about this approach was that his new compositions were now inspiring and influencing the story as I was re-writing it," Harris says. "I'd also send Paul new drafts of the script, or any new ideas as they were forming along the way, and a beautifully collaborative process evolved."
Jawbone, directed by Thomas Napper, is the semi-autobiographical story of a former youth boxing champion. Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris) is a man in search of hope but looking in all the wrong places. When he hits rock bottom, he turns to his childhood boxing club and the only family he has left: gym owner Bill (Ray Winstone), cornerman Eddie (Michael Smiley), and promoter Joe (Ian McShane). Back in training, years after anyone thought he was a contender, Jimmy will risk his life to stand tall and to regain his place in the world.
The album's sprawling 21-minute opener "Jimmy / Blackout" signals that Jawbone: Music From the Film is a collection quite unlike anything else from Weller's extensive discography. An experimental sound collage that provides much of the film's score and underlying mood, "Jimmy / Blackout" segues across a variety of different and often dissonant tones. Its eclectic tapestry of sounds flourishes and fractures with choral vocal harmonies, bursts of droning guitar, and the swirl of vintage synthesizers. Weller's inimitable vocal takes on a more ethereal quality when it finally surfaces shortly after the 18-minute mark as the tracks heads towards a dramatic crescendo.