Paul McCartney is back with his latest solo effort, Egypt Station. The Liverpool icon’s latest album goes under the microscope of Declan O’Dwyer.
When you are the most successful musician in the history of popular music “do you still need to be making music at 76 years of age?” is a question many might pose.
Have a look around and you will see many of that vintage still performing. Is it simply a vocation for these people or in comparison to professional sportspeople who often speak about the void in their lives when they retire. Are they simply just addicted to the buzz of being out there in the public sphere?
Personally I think creative people need to create. If anyone can live off their back-catalogue surely Paul McCartney can. However, on the 7th of September he released his latest album, Egypt Station.
Egypt Station was produced by Greg Kurstin (Beck, Adele and Sia), no doubt to add a more contemporary sound to this latest offering, as McCartney has wanted in recent times by working with younger producers.
The first track is ‘Opening Station’, a 42-second series of sounds, which emanates from what I presume is a train station, hence the album title. I have never been in an Egyptian train station but the imagery works on me.
The Penultimate track is ‘Opening Station 2’, think Sgt Peppers’ opening track and its reprise, though this album could not be regarded as a concept one. The opener however sets the mood for the first proper track, ‘I Don’t Know’. McCartney was never known for bearing his soul, unlike a former song writing partner of his but he does show his vulnerabilities here;
“Got crows at my window, dogs at my door… I don’t think I can take anymore what am I doing wrong? I don’t know…”
The mood changes completely on ‘Come On To Me’. An up tempo number where he has his swagger back. Here he is a man about town, looking to pull like a guy well 50 years his junior.
‘Happy with You’ sounds a little like the love-child of ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ from the White Album. Or alternatively as a track that would have been right at home on his self-titled debut record. He sings about how he is over getting wasted and stoned. It has a nice charm and toe tapping feel to it and its one of the better things on here.
‘Fuh You’ was the second single to be taken from this record. He enlisted the help of Ryan Tedder (Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande), as he wanted a hit. The song has been torn apart, the unfortunate title being an embarrassment to many. While stars of other genres might get away with that title, a man of McCartney’s vintage won’t. However, getting over the title I actually think it’s one of the best tracks on Egypt Station. Then again I also have a soft spot for ‘The Frog Chorus’.
Paul McCartney is one of the greatest melodists of popular music but protest songs and peace anthems are not his forté. He is not a Lennon in that regard and that’s evident here in ‘People Want Peace’. ‘Hand In Hand’ sounds like something that was written for 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard.
‘Back in Brazil’ thematically is similar to ‘Mamunia’ from Band on the Run as you get a tropical vibe; structurally they aren’t poles apart. ‘Caesar Rock’ is a down and dirty rocker with a phycadelic undertow.
While ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’ could be classed as an ecological call to arms. McCartney has been quoted as saying the captain of the ship he was singing about is Donald Trump. Musically it changes tone a few times.
The album ends with ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’ and alongside ‘Despite Repeated Warnings’, they give the album an Abbey Road style outro, which I would class as just ok.
Clocking in at 57.30, it’s relatively lengthy for a Macca album, maybe a little fat could have been trimmed off it. The first half of the record is stronger but overall it’s an enjoyable listen and one of which he can be proud of.
Songs worth putting on repeat: ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘Happy With You’, ‘Fuh You’ and ‘Caesar Rock’.