Paul McCartney – New (2013)

History: Paul worked with a total of four different producers this time around – Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns, Paul Epworth, and Giles Martin, with Giles Martin executive producing the entire album. This was Paul’s last album for Starbucks’ Hear Music label.

My own personal history and initial prediction: The album cover of this one looks familiar to me, as does the title “Queenie Eye.” I have a feeling I may have seen its music video before though I can’t remember how it goes right now. I’m a tad worried that the fact that Paul is working with younger producers like Mark Ronson on this one may lead to him trying to be hip and modern again, but we’ll see. Technically Godrich was also modern and that album was still distinctly Paul.

Review: Maybe it’s the reality of working with multiple producers like this, but I really found this one to be a bit of a mixed bag. There were songs I really liked, songs I felt didn’t really fit Paul’s style at all, and songs that were just a bit bland and uninteresting. My preferences don’t seem to match up exactly with the producers though, so it may just be that this was an experimental phase for Paul himself and so it’s natural I won’t love every attempt on here.

I will say both tracks done by Ethan Johns really perked my ears up though. Even though I wasn’t as big a fan of “Hosanna” as I was “Early Days,” both were so gorgeously mixed that they were a feast for my ears while listening through earbuds. It’s also worth noting that I didn’t just love “Early Days” because of the fact that it’s a reference to his time with the Beatles, but because of the acoustic guitar and other sounds that were fairly similar to the great work he’s been putting out for the decade prior. “New” was also a lot of fun because if it was recorded by any other band I would call it “Beatlesque” but because it’s him it’s more like he’s tapping back into his roots while also modernizing that old song writing style.

It’s worth noting that if you think Giles is going to make everything sound like his father did, you’ll be mistaken. While I’m sure he learned a lot from his father, he is still very much his own producer with his own distinctive style. It’s clear when he’s producing various Beatles recordings he’s respecting what came before, but here when he and Paul are creating something new you’re going to get something a lot different. Once again it’s hard for me to pick out who is responsible for what here, because while I enjoyed some of them others I found really bland. “On My Way to Work” for instance, doesn’t seem like it has much to it musically, and “Looking At Her” was bland in both lyrics and music. “Everybody Out There” had the feelings a perfectly mixed modern pop song, which unfortunately made it uninteresting to me just because it felt like I had heard it all before and wasn’t enthused by it.

I feel like “Queenie Eye” is a really good example of some of my issues with this album. It’s perfectly serviceable, doing all those things a pop song should, but it’s not really grabbing me and pulling me in. The video (which I had not seen before) seems like another big indicator of this. They grab a ton of famous people and fans and put them in a room to dance and sing along with Paul, but they all are basically off in their own worlds and not really connecting with each other (and I don’t just mean how Sean Penn obviously was filmed on a different day). It’s just all doesn’t feel as sincere to me as the rest of his most recent work has, and that’s disappointing. It’s not a bad album by any means, but not one I would really return to much in the future either. I’d rather just download “Early Days” and add that to my rotating list of songs.

Singles Released Around This Time:

The Bloody Beetroots – “Out of Sight – I’m not familiar with this Italian electronic band but listening to this single I have to say I enjoyed it. Paul’s leaning into the blues very heavily with his vocals and it fits the moody music they and Youth created to back it up. Definitely makes me want to check out a little more of their work to see if there’s anything else there I would enjoy.

Next Time: Ringo returns with Postcards from Paradise.

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