Since The Beatles first release in 1962, Paul McCartney has been one of the most recognized and adored musicians in the world. At 71 years old, he still releases music. His 24th solo studio album, “New,” came out October 15.
Many once popular musicians overstay their welcome and continue to produce stale material long after they should have quit. McCartney has always managed to remain relevant, however, and with each decade of activity, his music expands, taking in new styles and ideas of how a song should sound, while still retaining the traits that made his compositions with the Beatles so popular.
The only single released so far from the album is the title track “New,” a song that sounds like it could fit on a Beatles’ album. With poppy chords and a gentle vocal melody, “New” channels the spirit of the late 1960s. Signs of early McCartney are also seen in the song “Early Days,” a primarily acoustic song in which McCartney tells about his life before fame and how everything has changed.
While the rest of the album is highly produced to prevent McCartney’s voice from sounding aged, “Early Days” sounds much more stripped down. The bare acoustic guitar and timeworn vocals complement the message presented in the lyrics.
Not all of the album focuses on reminding the listener about what McCartney has made in the past. Songs like “Save Us” and “Alligator” show that McCartney has an awareness of modern music, and that he can still write innovative songs. “Save Us” borrows from modern alternative bands like the Killers and Muse, primarily with the vocals and instrumentation during the verses.
The guitar work and keys in both “Save Us” and “Alligator” are heavily influenced by artists of the past decade, and the vocal layering and production quality makes the listener forget that the man behind the music is a grandfather.
One song that sticks out on the album is “Hosanna.” It is darker than the rest of the album with droning synths, minor guitar chords, and lyrics of a lost love. It’s a powerful song that makes the listener feel the sadness and longing McCartney feels. “Hosanna” also proves that age has not destroyed McCartney’s voice as he exhibits great vocal range.
The album as a whole has all of the defining characteristics of a Paul McCartney album. It has a mix of acoustic and electric guitars, classical instruments, compelling song structure, catchy melodies and most importantly, Paul McCartney. Even though McCartney has already contributed so much to the world of music as a key member of arguably the most influential band of the past century, he continues to provide the world with quality, intelligent music.
He clearly does it for the love of music and a desire to broaden the range of his creations. Though “New” likely will never reach the popularity or influence of his work with the Beatles, it is still a great album, and it is refreshing to see a musician continue to progress after a full career.
Speakeasy rating: B+
Recommended tracks: “New,” “Hosanna,” “Early Days”