History: Recording of most of the tracks on the album occurred before recording Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. When that album was finished Paul returned to these songs, and finding that he still liked most of them tweaked them here and there along with recording a few new songs to complete it. This was Paul’s first release on Starbucks’ Hear Music label, and a large portion of sales in the initial release came from Starbucks stores.
My own personal history and initial prediction: I feel like at this point I need to change this heading because I don’t have much history with any of these albums anymore, but I’m going to leave it since we’re getting so close to the end. My main thought is I can see where Paul most likely got the inspiration for that title, looking at an electronic storage device and then decided to translate that idea into something for human memory. I’m assuming Paul will largely keep the record of the last few albums going so that this should at least be a pleasant listen if not an instant favorite.
Review: So I do remember hearing about Paul releasing an album through Starbucks, but as I’m not much of a coffee drinker I don’t go in the ever present shops often enough to have been exposed to the album that way. “Nod your head” sounded vaguely familiar when I heard it, so I may have at least heard that one before now. Overall, this is in fact another solid album from Paul. I listened to this one via earbuds, and I’m glad I did, because it’s a fairly mellow album with minimalist instrumentation in a lot of parts, and that closeness to my ears helped bring the intimate feel of it all to the forefront. I can’t imagine it would be much more than background noise in a coffee shop.
This album felt a bit more personal than some of Paul’s previous ones. A song like “Only Mama Knows” is obviously not meant to be Paul’s personal experience – he knows exactly who his father was, but his use of the first person perspective on the song changes it a lot from something like “Teddy Boy” where he’s just the narrator relating the story to us. “Mr. Bellamy” on the surface seems more like those prior story telling entries, but he trades lines between the protagonist and those out to get him which makes it all feel like an audio drama being played out in song. For “Ever Present Past” I specifically thought that it felt more like a song John would have written, the way it directly deals with facing his flaws and what he doesn’t feel capable of. It was a refreshing change to hear from Paul, who is maybe getting less guarded as he gets older.
I didn’t realize that the latter half of the album was a medley at first, but I did pick up on it as it went along. This one felt much more natural to me than others have in the past. I feel like he’s finally getting the flow of these right rather than them just feeling like unfinished song pieces he’s thrown together; they felt much more like a cohesive whole. The timing of this album also makes the mix of songs interesting, where we’re getting both songs he wrote while still in love with Heather and ones he’s writing as their marriage falls apart. It doesn’t make for a jarring transition though, because variety is generally what Paul does.
“Vintage Clothes” was as little bit of a head scratcher for me, in that lyrically he’s describing people much like what Bowie did with “Rebel Rebel” but whereas that song was pretty upbeat and out there for its time, this one is just a traditional folksy sounding song about people that like to be different. I’m not sure the juxtaposition works. “That Was Me” felt a little too self indulgent at parts, maybe just because he’s talking about his experiences as if we’re meant to feel bad that his life has just been so fortunate it’s overwhelming for him. But then on the polar opposite side you’ve got “The End of the End” which is just this beautiful song pondering where we go when this life ends and well wishes for those who are left behind.
Overall this seems like the perfect lay back and relax type of album, something to put on when you need to unwind a bit from the stresses of life. It’s not all slow and sleepy, but it’s fun and it’s positive when it isn’t slow, that it all really works. Definitely worth giving a listen.
Next Time: We’re back to see what Ringo is up to with Liverpool 8.