Paul McCartney – Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005)

History: At the suggestion of George Martin, Paul began to work with Nigel Godrich, best known for his work with Beck and Radiohead, to do an album. The sessions began with the full band but Godrich requested that he and Paul work alone, and they ended up employing a very collaborative process between the two of them to create all the songs. While there are other musicians present on the album, Paul did record a majority of the music himself.

My own personal history and initial prediction: None of the songs here look familiar to me, and surprisingly I’ve never heard of this one. I say surprisingly because I notice it was produced by Nigel Godrich, and this was right around the time that my now husband had introduced me to his work with Beck and I loved that, so if I had known about this album earlier I probably would have jumped at the chance to listen to it. I had been worrying about those love songs that dragged the last album down, but now I’m excited to listen.

Review: I have to admit, based on both Godrich’s production style in general and the credits I saw listed for the album, I expected this to be a lot more lush, orchestrated movements than the album actually ended up being. Compared to some of the other of Godrich’s works, this is very much stripped down and simplified. I’d also say that this still very much feel’s like Paul’s album. He may have taken some of Godrich’s advice to heart but these songs still feel very much like the kinds of songs he’s been putting out for the last ten years or so.

This is another great balanced album, not necessarily full of any obvious singles but still a lot of good songs. “Jenny Wren” feels like Paul combining “Blackbird” with “Put It There” to create this pleasant folksy portrait of a woman. “English Tea” is another of his throwback songs, painting wonderful imagery of a uniquely British scene. “Friends to Go,” “Too Much Rain,” and “Riding to Vanity Fair” all feel personal in a way that Paul doesn’t always show us.

It all comes out to a very minimalist feel, but backed up with beautiful orchestration when it needs it. This is a perfect chill back and relax type of album, for a rainy day or a lazy Sunday afternoon. Definitely recommended to give it at least one listen. If you’re a Paul fan and this is your first exposure to Godrich, I definitely recommend Beck’s Mutations and Sea Change. If nothing else at least listen to “O Maria” which starts off with the same few notes as the Beatles “Oh! Darling” and as such continually confuses me when I’m playing my songs on shuffle.

Next Time: Paul releases another classical album, Ecce Cor Meum.


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