sun 23/09/2018

CD: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station

CD: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station

All aboard for some late, great new tunes from Macca

'Egypt Station': 'largely free of artificial saccharine, leaving only the natural sugars'

Ambient sounds from an imaginary rail concourse fade to a full choir in the 42 seconds of “Opening Station”, the sonic scene-setting for Macca’s new hour-long set, his first album of new songs since 2013’s New. From here, Egypt Station properly leads off down the tracks with attractive piano ballad “I Don’t Know”, a sort of a slowed-up, cut-in-half adaptation of the “Lady Madonna” riff, McCartney’s voice unadorned, naked, and somewhat troubled, asking “where am I going wrong?”, his angst leavened by an assertion of love. The excellent single, “Come on to Me”, is crunchier, with solid drums and a lurching, grinding guitar riff under Macca’s lean, fat-free vocal; there are touches of Band on the Run guitar and brass. Effortlessly catchy, like sex that’s so good it’s worth the STD.   

“Happy with You” switches to acoustic guitar, a warm confessional that could have come from the same pen he used to write “Martha My Dear”. Indeed, the unadorned nature of many of the tracks here does remind you of The White Album’s aesthetics, with a sort of lyrical rawness exposed across song after song, even on the sentimental ones. McCartney has never shied from the sentimental but here it is largely free of artificial saccharine, leaving only the natural sugars, and the warmth of songs drawn out from a richly lived artistic life.

A master is at work here, and it sounds like play

Further in, the feedback drone that kicks off “Who Cares” presages another lean rocker, with echo-led vocals, fuzz guitar à la 70s Glam, locked-in drums, and a shout out against the bullies of the world, virtual or real. “Fuh You” basks in big strings and a big, big chorus with a big heart, and “Confidante” is a solo acoustic conversation with a close companion. “Despite Repeated Warnings” takes on the Donald with more Band on the Run-style musical dynamics, and at a time when pop and rock songwriters rarely seem to engage themselves in telling stories or evoking character, these – and much of the rest of Egpyt Station – stand out in a big way.

The sense of focus, concentration and a taking away of adornments makes this an outstanding addition to one of post-war popular music’s greatest catalogues. It’s ambitious, intimate, and various. He’s employed Adele and Beyonce’s producers, but it’s Macca who’s all over it, inside and out. As well as piano and bass, he turns his hand to a whole rack of instruments – guitars, drums, percussion, harmonium, harpsichord, Wurlitzer, tape loops and field recordings among them. It’s his sleeve art, too, his touring band behind him, plus the Muscle Shoals Horns, an orchestra and a choir. And yet it never swells into bombast, but sticks to the intimate, the lyrical, and the playful. A master is at work here, and it sounds like play.

@CummingTim : Tim Cumming's website

The sense of focus, concentration and a taking away of adornments makes this an outstanding addition to the catalogue

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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