The album art for Paul McCartney’s New, and the title itself, suggest a record that will cling to a contemporary sound, as if Macca were desperate for modern relevance. This consistent and solid collection of tracks reminds us that Paul McCartney has no need to do anything other than keep on making great music; no desperation necessary. With a collection of young, fresh producers at the helm and a confidence that is as well deserved as it ever was, McCartney sounds re-invigorated and relevant.
New is McCartney’s 16th studio album, and his first collection of original tracks since 2007. Though the sound is still McCartney through and through, he’s got some new ears on board to liven things up: Mark Ronson (most famous for his Amy Winehouse collaborations and a long list of other hits), Ethan Jones (Kings of Leon, Laura Marling) and Paul Epworth (Adele) all bring new flavours to the 13 songs on New. The first single and title track is a blatant nod to the Beatles, whimsy and all, and is livened up further by Ronson’s signature horn section, while Ethan Jones brings a raw and vulnerable sound to ‘Early Days’, a great song tinged with melancholy and nostalgia.
What really stands out about New is the diversity of sound on show, proving once again that McCartney is as capable of variety as he is of nostalgic sing-a-long renditions of ‘Hey Jude’. An electronica feel comes in on ‘I’m Looking At Her’, energetic pop-rock in ‘Save Us’ and there’s even an element of trip-hop thrown into ‘Appreciate.’ None of this feels forced, and there’s no cringe-inducing sense of McCartney trying too hard to sound ‘new’, despite the album’s title. Critics of McCartney who claim that he’s still riding the wave of Beatlemania should be silenced by this consistent and exciting record; it’s easily Macca’s best work in years.