24. October 2013 By Walter Price 4

Review: Paul McCartney – ‘NEW’

Paul McCartney – ‘NEW’ 

By Ken Michaels

Paul McCartney’s “New” album is his first release of all-original material since 2008’s “Electric Arguments” CD (under the moniker The Fireman, his collaboration with the producer Youth,) and his first under his own name since 2007’s “Memory Almost Full.” This is the longest wait his fans have ever experienced for original material from Paul-it just may not seem like it, with 5 of his past catalogue albums being remastered, the release of his music for ballet “Ocean’s Kingdom,” and his album of standards last year, “Kisses On The Bottom.” Even when Paul doesn’t release a new pop album, he still keeps extremely busy.

On “New,” Paul sounds rejuvenated, recharged, with much to be thankful for—a new wife, his constant touring which has garnered him nothing but glowing reviews, and his never-ending appreciation for all he has to be grateful for in life—an incredible career and loving family.

The album has all the hallmarks of what Paul McCartney is at his best—it is packed with great melodies and hooks spread out through a variety of musical styles.  Paul is the King of Eclectic-this album is one of many throughout Paul’s solo-career that proves just that. There’s something to please everyone, and at the same time, as Paul himself has admitted, there’s no way he can write songs without occasionally reminding you of something he did in his past. 

The first single and title track “New” has everyone calling it Beatlesque, and certainly to my ears, brings back the bouncy pop of “Penny Lane.” A few songs sound like they could have fit on Wings albums—“Alligator” reminds me of an unreleased Wings song from the “Back To The Egg” sessions “Cage,” and one of the bonus songs on the deluxe version “Turned Out” takes me back to Wings times. For those that want to hear Paul rock, the opening cut “Save Us” fits the bill, and even sounds better when Paul and his band do it live. Apart from loving the song, it’s been a long time since Paul opened his albums with a bonafide rocker. 

Then there’s “Queenie Eye,” another standout rocker, and 2ndsingle from the album, about a childhood ball game he used to play with the catchiest of choruses based on the lines he and his friends used to say when playing the game-“Queenie Eye, Queenie Eye, who’s got the ball…”  If Paul’s acoustic stuff is more your liking, you’ve got a pretty ballad “Hosanna” and the nostalgic song “Early Days” on the album-the latter his criticism of people who try to rewrite history and take his memories away. Paul writes “They can’t take that from me if they try, I lived through those early days.”  Indeed, it is hard to wrestle dealing with people who are studying your life and trying to write about it, compared to someone who actually lived it. 

There’s also the dance-able and very edgy track “Appreciate,” and the most experimental song on the album “Road,” which would have fit perfectly on “Electric Arguments”—it has the more atmospheric, ethereal sounds of that album, and goes in different directions, an anything but predictable song. A nice surprise is the hidden track “Scared,” available on all versions-standard and deluxe-of “New.” This is just Paul at the piano, bare, naked, afraid of professing his love for someone-it’s intimate and personal. It makes me wish Paul would just do more of this—him alone at the piano or guitar. It shows his vulnerability. The very nature that it’s just him with one instrument automatically makes it a more intimate experience. And if you want catchy, and this album is loaded with that, one of the catchiest is “Everybody Out There.” The refrain in the song “There but for the grace of God go you and I” is, to coin a phrase,  vintage McCartney.

Much has been said about the use of 4 producers to work with Paul on the album—-Paul Epworth (Adele,) Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse,) Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon) and Giles Martin (well, the Beatles.)  These producers help to keep the album sounding fresh and contemporary, and should be given credit in keeping Paul stimulated to create. But to everyone’s credit, the album sounds consistent and unified to the point where you wouldn’t know who produced each song, very much reminding me of Paul’s “Flowers In The Dirt” album in that regard.

Paul McCartney has consistently put out great albums in every decade. I’m not going to compare “New” to previous albums, because they’re all special in their own way. But I would definitely say that this is a great album, not just because the material is strong, but it shows Paul is still having fun, still looking for ways to make it fun, and still growing as an artist.

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