We will eschew the “comeback” talk that is too often associated with every halfway decent Paul McCartney disc…Sir Paul has put out a lot of albums in his solo career and some have been good, others have been not-so-good, and a couple have been downright great but the man never went anywhere so he never needed a “comeback”.
Memory Almost Full, McCartney’s album released by Hear Music, the music label started by Starbucks (as I write this, coffee junkies all over the world are listening to this record on an day-long loop in all of Starbucks many, many, many stores), is an affable look back at his productive and amazing life. If you were any ruefulness engendered by his very public, very nasty divorce proceedings to make its way into his new music, you will disappointed as the look back is positive and only occasionally wistful.
McCartney is in fine form as he journeys back while looking forward…there are echoes of his past musical triumphs sprinkled liberally throughout the disc but it is, at the same time, a record that has a very modern sound. He’s got nothing left to prove…and he certainly doesn’t need the money…and you get the feeling that he was both very engaged and very loose while making this record.
The disc starts off with the sprightly, mandolin-driven “Dance Tonight”, an agreeable bit of pop fun, which is followed by the harder pop of “Ever Present Past”, a paean to the speed at which life passes and how the present is always informed by the past.
“See Your Sunshine” is an unabashed McCartney love song (complete with multi-tracked vocals over a sweetly loping beat) while “Only Mama Knows” is an all-out rocker (which in fact has strong echoes of his classic “Jet” from Band on the Run.)
“Mr. Bellamy” is one of those baroque pop character studies that McCartney has indulged in for decades (see “Eleanor Rigby”, “
Theme of looking back but not wallowing in the past is championed in bouncy one-two punch of “Vintage Clothes” and “That Was Me”.
The wistfully charming “The End of the End” asks that jokes be told and songs be sung on the occasion of his death (“no reason to cry/no need to be sad”) in a simple song with piano and whistling and softly swelling strings.
The disc ends with another bit of fun…the brief, dense rocker “Nod Your Head”.
This is a fine record…Sir Paul, who’ll turn 65 later this month, proves he’s still a potent force to be reckoned with the pop world.
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