Paul McCartney – McCartney III (2020)

History: During lockdown for the COVID19 pandemic Paul started working on songs by himself, originally unsure if he would release it or not. Given that it was mostly done alone, the decision was made to release it as McCartney III. Technically “Slidin'” features other musicians besides Paul since its raw track was from the Egypt Station recordings, but Paul did finish the song alone along with all the other new tracks on the album.

My own personal history and initial prediction: Somewhere in the midst of the pandemic I did give this album a full listen. I don’t remember it all track by track at this point, but I mostly remember it as a bit of a mixed bag. Some songs I really enjoyed, others left me feeling a little cold. I’m curious to see how it all feels to me now having been through all of his music before it.

Review: I think I definitely appreciated this a bit more having gone through Paul’s entire catalog. This time around I’m used to the more experimental nature of these McCartney albums and I’ve heard Paul’s most recent output that it all fits the puzzle a little more. While I still wouldn’t say that I love the album, there’s a lot of good here.

“Find My Way” is the obvious single on the album and definitely the most catchy of all the songs. Though I also really liked “Lavatory Lil” as one of his storytelling songs that had this strong Beatles feeling to it. “Slidin'” is also just a really great blues song. “Long Tailed Winter Bird” is also a really strong start for the album with its distinctive guitar riff pulling you in and grabbing your attention.

But like some of the other of these McCartney releases as well as some other stuff from Paul’s early career and Wings, there are also songs that feel unfinished. The attitude was clearly “well I’ve got one verse and one chorus, let’s just repeat it” and personally I’m not a fan of that. It’s particularly bad on “Deep Deep Feeling” which feels so incomplete yet he stretches it out for a full eight and a half minutes. I guess he was really enjoying playing it, but for me I was pretty bored and wishing it would end.

I was also pretty conflicted about “Pretty Boys” and “Women and Wives” with Paul’s very deep vocals. I like the lyrics of the latter song, but I just wasn’t crazy about him taking on that vocal style. He’s certainly known for trying all kinds of different voices throughout his career, this one just didn’t work for me personally. I think that voice works a little better for more upbeat tunes.

I did also listen to McCartney III Imagined right after the original album, though I’ll admit that when I saw that version of “Deep Deep Feeling” was stretched out to eleven minutes I did turn it off. But I do think that album puts a really good point on just how modern most of these songs feel, or maybe timeless is a better term for it. Most of the songs work pretty well being remixed or sung by other performers, none of it sounding like it’s trying too hard to make an old man relevant.

This is my last Paul album, though I highly doubt it will be Paul’s last release. He strikes me as a musician who will continue to record for as long as he’s physically able to, and personally I’m all for it. He continues to put out solid quality records.

Next Time: Ringo releases the first of his own pandemic home recorded EPs with Zoom In.

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