McCartney stays young in ‘New’

By Carl Nadig

Even in his senior years, Paul McCartney still discovers fresh ways to express his musical ambitions.

Following a copious discography that stretches back to the “Swinging Sixties,” McCartney’s newest album release, “New,” is the former Beatles’ first solo record since 2007. With the help of executive producer Giles Martin, son of well-known Beatles record producer George Martin, “New” encapsulates McCartney’s musical development with contemporary sounds.

One of the refreshing qualities to McCartney’s songwriting is its dexterity in adapting to new sounds while refraining from assimilating to easier methods of producing music. Similar to nostalgic tracks about Liverpool from Ringo Starr’s 2010 album “Y Not,” some of McCartney’s newest songs pay homage to memories of his musical roots, as in “Early Days,” while incorporating an orchestral tone with brightened lyrics of ambition, as in “New.”

Even at 71, McCartney’s vocal range hasn’t changed too much; however, at moments, he attempts to reach high-pitched harmonies only to drop short into melodious lulls. From these soothing moments, it’s almost conceivable to see Thom Yorke in a future Wings album.

Not every song on McCartney’s album is fragrant and delightful. “New” doesn’t sound overly saccharine, which provides enough room for a diverse picture of his musical influences, although many McCartney fans may not recognize him.

“It’s funny, when I play people the album they’re surprised it’s me,” said McCartney, according to “A lot of the tracks are quite varied and not necessarily in a style you’d recognize as mine. I didn’t want it to all sound the same.”

During the middle of the album, McCartney incorporates filthy dance beats, as in “Appreciate.” His lyrics on the complexities of libido are pungent for pop fans in “Looking At Her.” These techniques aren’t new to McCartney fans.

The most strikingly odd combination is the incorporation of a classical guitar while using a tape reversal technique in “Hosanna.” This creates an unnerving sequence that possesses a fraction of the haunting climax of the Beatles’ “Revolution 9.”

With this uneasy setting, it seems only appropriate the album begins with a cry for rescue in “Save Us” and ends with intimidating war bongos in “Get Me Out of Here.”