Paul McCartney Covers Classics On "Kisses On The Bottom"
But thankfully, he went the path of jazz standards from the American songbook instead, releasing an album of 14 covered classics plus two original songs, all performed in a sleepy, smooth, romantic vein.
The songs are dear to McCartney, who grew up listening to them being played on the piano by his father.
They inspired him toward musicianship and fostered a love and appreciation for a genre he would ultimately steer quite clear of during his rock ’n’ roll career.
But he’s come full circle, in a way, and is now paying tribute to the genre of his parents, the genre of his childhood.
His voice could be described as constrained throughout, if comparing it to past solo efforts and certainly when comparing it to many Beatle’s tracks, but if this album is to be appreciated, it should be done so as a singular work—without comparison.
This is a very different McCartney than one might expect. He sounds his age, which is unusual but not negative. It’s actually comforting, lovely and relaxing, although 16 tracks feels too long (the relaxation turns to sleepiness around 12 or 13).
The first track is “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,” a fitting, lyrically romantic beginning to an album filled with similar sentiment throughout.
McCartney doesn’t play any instruments on the entire album—a surprise. Instead, he leaves the musicianship to a truly talented trio: jazz pianist Diana Krall, drummer Karriem Riggins and composer Jonny Mandel.
The three provide a platform for McCartney to glide atop uncharted personal vocal territory, projecting an even-handed jazziness that could sooth the seemingly un-sooth-able.
“More I Cannot Wish You,” from the 1950’s musical ‘Guys and Dolls,’ is slow and flowing; “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” made famous in part by Ella Fitzgerald, sounds light, airy and toe-tappingly infectious.
He covers Fats Waller’s “My Very Good Friend the Milkman,” along with “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Inchworm,” all in subtlety beautiful ways that conjure a Valentine’s Day spirit—obviously not inconsequential considering the album release date’s proximity to the holiday.
In fact, that was a very orchestrated move, as one of McCartney’s two original tracks is titled “My Valentine,” written by him for his new wife Nancy Shevell. It features a guitar solo by Eric Clapton—a pretty great Valentine’s Day gift, indeed.
His other original track is “Only Our Hearts” and features a wonderful Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. Both songs sound like they could have been written in the 1940’s, but still stand out from the other tracks, if perhaps only because they’ve never been heard before.
If sleepy at times, this album makes up for it in honesty. It sounds like McCartney truly loves these songs and that he wants to honor a personal, pre-fame period of his life. And anyway, even if you find it periodically yawn-inducing, McCartney can do whatever he wants.
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