Jawbone: O.S.T. by Paul Weller is (as the title suggests) the soundtrack to the movie Jawbone. Set in the boxing world, the British production is directed by Thomas Q. Napper and written by Johnny Harris, who also stars in the film. Original soundtrack albums can be a mixed bag but there are some classics in the genre (Pink Floyd’s More springs to mind) and with Jawbone we have an album that falls somewhere in the middle.
It opens with ‘Jimmy/Blackout’ which is a twenty-two minute long soundscape. Starting very gently with piano and strings it is pleasant enough with some nice touches of darker tones interspersed throughout; hinting that the movie will deal with bleak themes. At the midway point the song feels like it is about to open up as a classic Weller crunch guitar enters the fray but alas it is only a feint as the music returns to a plaintive pace. When vocals appear it is almost hymnal like as Weller intones, “Takes a strong mind to battle through the waves and flashes of such fortunes.'” Yes, the opening track may be overlong but despite that it holds together well.
‘The Ballad of Jimmy McCade’ follows and it is a beautiful, simple and affecting ballad of the type of which Weller has excelled throughout his long and varied carrier. All his experience can be heard in his voice which carries a richness and depth that only age can bring. ‘Jawbone’ is a heavy-hitter and comes out swinging with a weighty beat. There is a swagger and a braggadocio to the guitar that reminds one of a pugilist at the top of his or her game. Moreover, there is a deftness to the songwriting that highlights the singer-songwriters belief in his own ability.
‘Bottle’ echoes the balladry of the second song and is reminiscent of older Irish/ Scottish traditional ballads with touches of Simon and Garfunkel thrown in for good measure which is no bad thing. ‘Jawbone Training’ pulses with a jazzy beat as the cymbals hiss along with an overlay of overdriven guitar. ‘Man on Fire’ and ‘End Fight Sequence’ draw proceedings to a close with the latter eschewing Hollywood bombast for a rather sparse, and in ways, claustrophobic closer.
All said, this is not an album that will change lives (Weller, to his credit, has created many of those) but it is a confident showing that deserves the time and attention of its audience.