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Thursday, July 19, 2018

For memory’s sake

New is a sappy and sentimental journey,yes,but more than that,it’s an effort to be a part of the 21st century.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published: November 2, 2013 12:09:22 am

Album: New

Singer: Paul McCartney

Music: Universal Music

Price: Rs 395

Rating: ***1/2

During the second half of the last century,millions of lives were altered,some profoundly,by four Liverpudlians with mop-tops. The Beatles,as they called themselves,sold platinum albums,returned innocence to the world,held our hands in days full of gloom and became a soundtrack to our lives. So for someone who’s already been a part of creating that experience,what can possibly pull Sir Paul McCartney back,again,to a recording studio? “One of my biggest thrills is sitting down with a guitar or a piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen,” McCartney had said once. And at 71,he seems as enchanted with the idea as he was in 1960,just before the Beatlemania began. McCartney’s 16th studio album titled New is exemplary of that passion,that earnestness.

The last time we saw McCartney make music was with Nirvana’s Dave Grohl. In Grohl’s Sound City,a film that got a standing ovation at Sundance this year,McCartney held on to his guitar and crooned Cut me some slack,the track reflecting a sort of fuzzy wisdom in song writing. If that was anything to go by,then our old man still has quite some life left in him to put out greatness. And in New’s 13 tracks,the musician delivers,to some extent.

New is a sappy and sentimental journey,yes,but more than that,it’s an effort to be a part of the 21st century,to engage with the musical vocabulary of today. So with four producers on the album,two of whom share a special past with McCartney (Giles Martin is George’s son and Ethan Jones’ father arranged Let It Be),the musician gives us some blustery blues rock alongside a soft folk,a mid-tempo ballad and some triumphant pop. Lyrics -wise,McCartney sticks to an old-school approach and makes it all a trip down the memory lane.

The album nosedives into Save us,the opening track that nudges all the recent garage bands to sprint at an unimaginable pace. This is one of the more well-orchestrated tracks and a perfect one for a run in the morning. Alligator is a classic rock ’n’ roll song,with some haunting riffs as interludes. McCartney also tries a falsetto in this one paired with some machine-churned electronic sounds. But what catches our attention is the Beatle-esque On my way to work,with its wistfulness touching all the right chords. There is this hint of familiarity in terms of sound with an interesting harmonic vocal hook as McCartney croons People came and went. Queenie eye,a simple rock song,seems too pretentious and loud. But then comes the wonderful riff for the gooey story song,Early days,which harks back to the old days in every sense of the word. It’s heartwarming to hear him sing They can’t take it from me if they try. It’s the bard of music going into a reverie to ponder upon his musical identity. The title song is inventive rock ’n’ roll and great fun.

Appreciate is nothing special. The hip-hop groove to it is fine,but doesn’t work with McCartney’s aged voice. An interesting one is O boy,get me out of here,the longest song on the album,thanks to some fantastic hand drumming and McCartney’s inventive riffs.

Buy it for a piece of McCartney’s legendary-ness,his wry sense of humour and genuine nostalgia. We owe it to him. Undisputed musicians should be allowed more. After all he (along with three others) showed us the Strawberry Fields and took us on the Abbey Road.

suanshu.khurana@expressindia.com

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