At the symbolic age of 64, Sir Paul McCartney has released his new solo album Memory Almost Full, recorded in the way that he likes most: alone, or almost alone. He plays all the instruments by himself (except for the strings) and does all the voices by himself too.
There are many interpretations of the title Memory Almost Full which you can find in a sea of reviews about the album, but for me it’s just the evidence of a man in his third age thinking seriously about his death (“The End of the End”), looking over his shoulder at the long and winding road that he had taking (“Ever Present Past”, “You Tell Me”, “Vintage Clothes” and “That Was Me”).
But also the title Memory Almost Full is about the feeling of his soul after his painful divorce, so tired after that old deal because he really loves that woman (“Gratitude”).
Before listening I was thinking about this album like the last part of a third millennium trilogy with Driving Rain and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, but I was surprised by the album that reminds me of the best moments from Wings, with some musical déjà vu of the Flaming Pie.
Can we expect something really new from Paul? Hard question, looking back in retrospect. Press to Play sounds new compared with his first eighties albums, although for me the lowest point on his solo career was Press to Play. On the other hand, the amazing Run Devil Run was really something new compared with the albums released in the last 20 years; furthermore it was a vindication of the rock and roll after the decaffeinated CHOBA B CCCP album.
Asking again, Can we expect something really new from Paul? Yes, Memory Almost Full is a bit different, more fresh, more rock, more raw, and more emotive than the last albums, but of course it has the typical Macca clichés and it has the same musical tips which we love in his music. This is what we want: his charming voice in the emotive song (“You Tell Me”), his powerful and hoarse voice in the rock tune (“Nod Your Head”), his unbeatable arrangements and his infinite talent to play bass, guitar (great solo on “House of Wax”!), piano, and drums.
Let me quote: Paul collaborated with Ringo on Vertical Man, and while they were mixing the album, Ringo said to Paul with a little disappointment, “hum, it sounds like The Beatles” and Paul answered, “hey man, you’re a Beatle!”. Paul didn’t have a problem sounding like his old records, because what he is, is what he is (“Vintage Clothes”, “That Was Me”).
Now it’s time to disagree a little with Sir McCartney, I don’t like “Dance Tonight” as the opening of the album, even more, I don’t like this track on the album. After the kicking rock tunes that opened the last albums (“Lonely Road” and “A Fine Line”) I was waiting for a stronger tune, specially after he announced that he would work with David Khane as producer. “Only Mamma Knows” would have been a better option than this monotone track that could give you a lazy preview of the album.
This is not an album to introduce a new audience to Paul, but the most successful songwriter alive hardly needs that. This is just the album that fans were waiting for, thousands of fans all over the world.
Published on Blogcritics on 18-06-2007
Also available on LexisNexis