Paul McCartney – McCartney III (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 44:42 minutes | 956 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Capitol Records
50 years following the release of his self-titled first solo album ‘McCartney’, featuring Paul playing every instrument and writing and recording every song, Paul McCartney releases ‘McCartney III’. Paul hadn’t planned to release an album in 2020, but in the isolation of ‘Rockdown,’ he soon found himself fleshing out some existing musical sketches and creating even more new ones. Before long an eclectic collection of spontaneous songs would become ‘McCartney III’: a stripped-back, self-produced and, quite literally, solo work marking the opening of a new decade, in the tradition of 1970’s ‘McCartney’ and 1980’s ‘McCartney II’. ‘McCartney III’ spans a vast and intimate range of modes and moods, as unexpected circumstances are turned into a personal snapshot of a timeless artist at a unique point in history.
At crucial moments in his epic career, Paul McCartney has turned to a self-titled solo record as an emotional palette cleanser. In 1970 as the Beatles were in the throes of dissolution, he made the shambolic, rough-hewed McCartney (on the back cover was a shot of his infant daughter Mary nestled in his coat—her photography is now part of the McCartney III packaging). Ten years later as Wings was crashing back to earth, he made the synth-driven McCartney II. Both were initially savaged by press and fans alike but have since become much-beloved entries in his ever-lengthening discography, now seen as more personal and experimental efforts in a solo career that has often been commercially focused to a fault.
While the scenario of a 78-year-old Paul McCartney locked up by the pandemic in his Sussex home with a computer, a plethora of musical instruments and a desire to do the one-man band thing screams incoming indulgence, McCartney III is certainly that, but in a good way. The stylistic freedom inherent in being isolated and alone is a welcome antidote to his legendary sense of what sells. Macca’s best album since 2007’s Memory Almost Full, the variety of McCartney III is its strongest point. For those still looking for wisps of Beatlesque genius, “Lavatory Lil”—whose title recalls “Polythene Pam”—is exuberance that very nearly tips from sass into offensive ire. And if it’s the White Album you’re missing, “The Kiss of Venus,” sung in his fading yet still capable falsetto, recalls his former band’s devotion to baroque pop as it makes its spidery way, eventually adding harpsichord accents. For the sound of Sir Paul cutting loose and rocking out with abandon, the ponderous proto-metal sendup of “Slidin’” is the sound of the shrieker of “Helter Skelter” again getting his ya-yas out with, “I know there must be other ways of feeling free, but this what I want to do, who I want to be.” As for intimacy, the unprocessed sound of McCartney’s now weathered voice, sounds wise and ruminative in “Pretty Boys,” singing lines about “bicycles for hire” and “working for the squire.” The crisp, mostly uncompressed sonics here prove that Sir Paul’s ears have lost none of their acuity as the slow, careful home recording process challenged him to limit excessive layering and to capture his voice, warts and all, in a natural way. On the looped beat and repetitive lyrics of the oddly attractive R&Bish groove of “Deep Down,” he even goes hoarse and talky. Finally, the album’s sleek and rolling centerpiece, “Deep Deep Feeling,” which wrestles with the sweet and sour aspects of love, is built on acoustic piano and an impressive fusion of lead and background vocals. While the album’s opener “Long Tailed Winter Bird” and closer “Winter Bird / When Winter Comes” could be taken as signs that McCartney intends to flutter off the scene, the vital energies audible in McCartney III say otherwise. – Robert Baird
1 Long Tailed Winter Bird
2 Find My Way
3 Pretty Boys
4 Women And Wives
5 Lavatory Lil
6 Deep Deep Feeling
8 The Kiss Of Venus
9 Seize The Day
10 Deep Down
11 Winter Bird / When Winter Comes