Welcome back Paul McCartney. For lack of a better phrase, he's back to where he once belonged. He's released a collection of songs that is all at once lyrically pleasing, Beatlesque, forward-thinking, modern, vintage and above all else rocking. On New, Sir Paul sounds re-energized. Gone are the introspective, reflective and somewhat somber lyrics and music that plagued Memory Almost Full (Hear Music, 2007), his last collection of original offerings (2012's Hear Music release Kisses On The Bottom was a romantic paean to his new wife Nancy Shevell). The album includes rocking tracks, and, of course, (what would a McCartney album be without them?) ballads. They all fit together well.
The album, though quite nostalgic also sounds fresh, contemporary and vital. em>New takes McCartney in an interesting direction. Produced by a committee of four (Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth, Ethan Johns and Giles Martin), McCartney's signature sound is re-energized and updated but not remodeled.
A prime example is the album's urgent opening track, "Save Us," with its relentless beat, driving bass, fuzzy yet soaring lead guitar. The song grabs the listener by the throat and demands that he or she take notice.
And that isn't all. It is rare that an album is immediately likeable upon first listen. New is one of the few that is. There isn't a bad track on the CD. Another highlight is "Alligator" which features a very Beatles-like harpsichord and Wings-like guitar riff.
Paul has been quoted as saying that the "Queenie Eye" lyric is based on a kid's game that he used to play on the streets and in the playgrounds of Liverpool. Although it features droning synthesizer riffs, the song has a feel and sound similar to many tracks found on the Beatles Revolver (Capitol, 1966) album. The lyrics...
"Queenie Eye, Queenie Eye, who's got the ball I haven't got it, it isn't in my pocket O-U-T spells out That's out Without a shadow of a doubt"
...are so catchy. It is sure to be released as a single.
The acoustic ballad "Early Days" is pure McCartneyfolky, beautiful and whimsicaland it directly references the Beatles. It's also stark and intimate, as if McCartney was sitting down to tell the real story while at the same time deriding those who tell his story inaccurately. The CD's first single doesn't have a direct reference, but it does have the feel of a Beatles track. It has addictive bounce to it and is in essence a time machine, echoing the past while sounding contemporary. It has an irresistible melody, wonderful horns, harpsichord, a driving beat, and strong lyrics.
The darker sounding feel and booming percussion featured on "Appreciate" are in stark contrast to the happy, peppy and bouncing "New." It's muscular and somewhat avant-garde (featuring tape loops and some electronic manipulation of the guitars).
"I Can Bet" is a very lively song featuring a rapid-fire vocal and a slightly saucy lyric on which McCartney states, "What I'm gonna do next I'll leave entirely to your imagination."
"Save Us," "New," "Queenie Eye," and "I Can Bet" are fantastic tracks. "Alligator," "Early Days" and "Appreciate" are excellent. The album shows that, even fifty years-plus down the road, Paul McCartney is still a force. The final takeaway is that New is a damn good album.
Save Us; Alligator; On My Way to Work; Queenie Eye; Early Days; New; Appeciate; Everybody Out There; Hosanna; I Can Bet; Looking At Her; Road; Scared.
Paul McCartney: bass, guitar, glockenspiel, synthesizer, piano, drums, celeste, lap steel guitar, moog, tape loops, mellotron, tambourine, harpsichord, wurlitzer, conga drums, maracas, bouzouki with pencils, ciguitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals; Paul Epworth: producer, drums; Rusty Anderson: guitar, bouzouki with pencils, backing vocals; Brian Ray: guitar, baritone guitar, dulcimer, backing vocals; Paul "Wix" Wickens: keyboards, guitar, piano, hammond organ, accordion, backing vocals; Abe Laboriel, Jr.: drums, backing vocals; Toby Pittman: programming, keyboards; Cathy Thompson: violin; Laura Melhuish: violin; Patrick Kiernan: violin; Nina Foster: violin; Peter Lale: viola; Rachel Robson: viola; Caroline Dale: cello; Katherine Jenkinson: cello; Chris Worsey: cello; Richard Pryce: bass; Steve McManus: bass; Bill Black Bass: harmonium, percussion; Ethan Johns: producer, drums, percussion; Steve Sidwell: trumpet; Jamie Talbot: tenor saxophone; Dave Bishop: baritone saxophone; Eliza Marshall: alto flute; Anna Noakes: alto flute; Giles Martin: producer, ipad tambora app, foot stomp; Mark Ronson: producer.
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