What would make the approaching winter of 2020 seem a little less dark and scary? A vaccine isn’t a bad place to start but since most of us won’t see that until next year what else would make the end of this crummy year more tolerable?
Food? Relaxation? A warm bath? Music? Did I hear someone out there say music?
Ahh, music, right you are. But my dear friends not just any music will do. Personally it would take something like a brand new Paul McCartney album to appear out of nowhere to help part some of the dark and ominous clouds that seem to keep rolling through this dreaded year of 2020.
Well as luck would have it today of all days Paul freakin’ McCartney has indeed released a completely new collection of freshly recorded music!
Paul McCartney’s new album entitled “McCartney III” was released today and I have to tell you it’s been the highlight of a very long and frustrating year which in fact seems to be growing ever more winding with each passing week.
The “McCartney III” album is the third album McCartney has released since he left The Beatles in which he wrote, performed and produced everything on the album by himself.
The first two in this trilogy, “McCartney” from 1970 and “McCartney II” from 1980, were both released in times of challenge and transition for McCartney so how appropriate is it that he would create a third homespun album in one of the most challenging years, so far, of the 21st Century.
The album contains ten songs which find McCartney in a playful mood just making music for music’s sake. There are no guest stars, no hot new producers, no agenda other than McCartney following his muse to see where it goes.
With Britain in lockdown, or Rockdown as McCartney calls it, it was the perfect time to let the mad scientist
McCartney work in his music lab unfiltered and unfettered making what can honestly be called pure McCartney music.
At 78 McCartney has lost none of his touch for writing catchy tunes and creating a world of sound textures that stick in your brain without any effort.
I did hear a preview of some of the songs on this album that were leaked on the Internet in the last few weeks but after hearing the entire album in great sound quality I can honestly say that I’m very pleased with what I hear on this album.
While I’ve only heard the album a few times, already I can say that there’s only a couple of songs I feel a bit meh about while the rest I find really good to excellent.
Highlights of the disc so far for me are the lovely opening acoustic track “Long Tailed Winter Bird” (a song very much in the “McCartney” album mode), “Find My Way” (a song I call The Beatle tune, very poppy), the White Album sounding “Lavatory Lil” (a nice rocking tune with some biting lyrics), the “RAM” like “Deep Deep Feeling” which is more groove and sound texture than lyrics and the exquisite folk ballad “Winter Bird/When Winter Comes” which is actually a leftover track from the “Flaming Pie” era that is so deceptively simple yet endearing and catchy.
Really the only songs on the album that I haven’t really warmed up to yet are “Deep Down” and “Pretty Boys” both of which are decent enough songs but may need some time to really sink in. They seem like b-side material at best but a lot of time McCartney songs like this grow on me so who knows what further listening may bring with these songs.
I don’t hear anything I really dislike on this album and quite frankly I love it when McCartney lets himself be free in the studio without trying to be anything but himself. It sounds more organic and earthy to me and while I wouldn’t say that on first blush this is one of his best albums it’s certainly a very good album that may grow in stature with repeated exposure like many of my favorite McCartney albums.
I’ve read quite a bit of comments online about the sound of McCartney’s aging voice but honestly I think he sounds better on this album than on 2018’s “Egypt Station” (which I love by the way). Yes his voice at 78 is nowhere near what it was say in 1980 at the time of “McCartney II” but on this new album McCartney seems to really fit his voice well to the material.
I think the rest from touring this year has helped his voice sound less ragged and I find that he sounds perfectly fine on this album. If you are waiting for his 1970 “Maybe I’m Amazed” voice to pop out you’ll sadly be disappointed but I find he maneuvers his voice well to the songs he’s writing now and I think he sounds better in this rawer state then the excessive voice processing used on “Egypt Station”.
“McCartney III” seems to find the right blend between McCartney’s pop and experimental sides which makes this new album sort of the child of “McCartney” and “McCartney II” as it really comes off as a blend of those two approaches which is my book is a very good thing.
What a gift to still be hearing new and interesting music from Paul McCartney in 2020. I’ll take new McCartney music any day but at this moment in time it’s quite a special treat and I’ll be revisiting this album quite a lot in the next few weeks as it’s the perfect escape from the weariness of politics and Covid that has made this year such a weary and depressing experience.
You can catch this new album either online or in a variety of interesting CDs and different colored vinyl pressings so if you’re in need of hearing a master pop craftsman doing what he does best (entertain) then look no further than checking out “McCartney III”.
I for one am going to give this album a few more spins and let it try and wash off some of the grim of 2020.
As usual you can check out photos of the regular CD edition above. More to follow as I have some vinyl and a special SHM-CD version with four bonus tracks on the way so look out for them on future blog posts.
Until next time be well and stay safe!