Published on March 4, 2014
New by Paul McCartney. It was released on October 14th in the UK on Virgin EMI Records and October 15th, 2013 in the United States on Hear Music. It is Paul’s sixteenth studio album. Since our review of Paul’s experimental album as “The Fireman” entitled Electric Arguments: 2011 He was commissioned by the New York City Ballet; releasing his first score for a dance collaboration with Peter Martins called Ocean's Kingdom. Paul’s 2011 tour, called the “On The Run” Tour stopped in stadiums across the world including “Yankee Stadium”, and “Wrigley Field” on the first leg of the North American tour. In October of 2011, Paul married his girlfriend Nancy Shevell, where producer Mark Ronson served as the DJ for the reception. 2012 He released Kisses on the Bottom. On that album Paul covers versions of traditional pop and jazz songs; while honoring his father, Jim, who played in jazz and ragtime bands in Liverpool. In July of 2012 he performed at the Closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In December of 2012, he performed the single “Cut Me Some Slack” (Off of the Sound City Movie Soundtrack) with the three former members of Nirvana at the 12-12-12: The Concert for Hurricane Sandy Relief. Album Background General: This is Paul’s first studio album since 2007’s Memory Almost Full to consist entirely of new material. Although he did release an experimental album as his alter ego “The Fireman” entitled Electric Arguments in 2008. The topics covered on this album are quite varied; ranging from crowd sing-along songs (“Everybody Out There”) to recent events in his life, like his marriage, and memories from this Beatles and childhood days (“Queenie Eye”) Album Sounds: In general this album has a unique mix of three types of sounds o o o A very current, fresh and fun, blues inspired sound, like on the track “Alligator”. A very raw, uncut, spur of the moment sound that reminds me of post-Beatles Paul. A very pure, polished Beatles era sound
Artwork: The album cover art which features some imagery of fluorescent lights, spelling out the word “NEW” was inspired by the sculptural work of Dan Flavin, a artist who was famous objects out of commercially available fluorescent light fixtures. There are multiple version of this album available, the a standard 12 track version, with the color scheme of yellow, orange and pink mix and a deluxe version, which includes three bonus tracks as well as some bonus goodies of a light up “New” cube, a postcard set and a bonus DVD that features some concert footage; the color scheme is blue, pink and purple. Whatever version you get it, I think the album artwork is really cool; it seems to reflect the “New”, different style of the album. Production: Coming into the writing and recording of this album Paul wanted to do something different or “New”. Although he only knew the work of Giles, Paul decided that he was going to trial all four of the producers and chose the best to record the whole album with. However he ended up just deciding to work with all four: 1. Giles Martin, son of longtime Beatles producer George Martin, considers himself “root the Beatles Projects go through” because of his families legacy with working with The Beatles as a group or as solo artists. Giles oversaw this entire project, and was in charge of tying the entire album together by controlling the balance between Paul’s ambitions and his established musical identity. After listening to both the Giles Martin producer songs as well as the entire album I get the sense that he is one of the rare people that can not only handle the sounds of Paul in the past but also the future. 2. Producer and Musician Mark Ronson, who has worked with artists like Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, Christina Aguilera and Lil Wayne, brings a youthful, playful yet retro sound to this album as he was tasked with creating a sound that was most like Paul classic Wings and late-era Beatles sound, but with an interesting modern twist. 3. Ethan Johns, who has worked with bands like the Kings Of Leon, The Boxer Rebellion, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, is considered to be an acoustically minded producer who uses organic instruments in a very intimate way to capture the moment was tasked with the two acoustic ballads on the album. 4. Paul Epworth, who has worked with artists like Adele, Florence and the Machine and Rihanna, brings the ability to create huge arrangements that are filled with a great energy while still adding this rough, tough feel. Epworth also likes to improvise allot during the recording process, rather than come in with prepared material. This can defiantly been heard on the Epworth produced tracks on the album. In the “Making Of New” VH1 documentary Paul gave a great quote that I believe summarizes Epworth: “I wonder what guitar is holding, let’s find out”
Track by Track Review: 1. Save Us - The album starts out with this Paul Epworth produced fast-paced powerful rocker that will bring you back to the golden “Helter Skelter”, sounding, hard-rock era of the Beatles catalog. This song seems to follow the classic McCartney song writing mold, in that it is relatively short and simple yet hard rocking. It also features only McCartney, (vocals, guitar) and Epworth (drums), which is unbelievable to think about, since it is such an action-packed, hard rocking song. This song reminds me of Paul post-era Wing’s days. It opens with a short distorted sythn-laced guitar riff, vocal and drum pairing that creates a pounding drum beat, with some interesting backing vocals that travel through the song, setting the tempo and mood for the high-energy chorus. The chorus, which seems to be dominated by the loud sythn-based electric guitar, showcases some inanely catchy lead vocals from Paul and as well as an interesting and catchy assortment of “Whoa-oh” type group backing vocals to close out the chorus. The studio version of the song closes with some random piano sliding and Paul’s signature screaming vocals. 2. Alligator –This Mark Ronson produced song has a very unique raw and experimental yet polished blues inspired sound. It opens up with a strong synthesized flute and low drum intro that travels throughout the song, gradually building into the chorus. The chorus, which is built around some acoustic guitar lead instrumentation, features a series of strong looping electric guitar riffs and great lead and backing vocals that bring the song to a close as they become very airy and spacey sounding. Lyrically this song is one of my favorites because of its fun and quirky yet personal lyrics. It seems like analogies are used to describe not only the liberating power of love but Paul’s personal desire to find a soul mate, as can be heard with these main verses “Could you be that person for me? / Would you feel right setting me free? / Could you dare to find my key?” 3. On My Way To Work – This is the albums first ballad; it was produced by lead producer Giles Martin, who was in charge with making sure all the songs on the album fit Paul’s established musical identify while, at the same time mixing in a bit of uniqueness and interest. It starts out slower paced acoustic guitar and vocal pairing that flows into the chorus of the song, which is dominated by some spectacular vocals that paint a “blue collar vision of romance” with some gritty visuals on a strumming acoustic guitar backing that is peppered with some intermittent electric guitar riffs and low pounding drum loops that give the song an interesting folk-rock and acoustic feel that remind me of a few Beatles songs off of The White Album. 4. Queenie Eye – This bouncy, fun track, Paul Epworth produced track is the second single off the album. It opens with a pattern of slow-paced synth driven beat that flows into some piano driven instrumentation and echoy vocals that with the help of a gliding synth-lace bass line,
and drum bounce beat and dueling background vocals, builds up to a piano led, jumpy and energetic chorus, filled with an assortment of vocals, (including Paul’s signature scream) as well as layered backing vocals that seem to be placed under the instrumentation, add another interesting layering effect. All of the above is ultimately built around the insanely catch line in the chorus of “Queenie eye Queenie eye, who’s got the ball, I haven't got it, it isn't in my pocket, O-U-T spells out that's out”, which is a line from a street game that Paul used to play growing up while growing up in Liverpool. The music video was shot at the historic “Abbey Road Studios”, and featured many celebrities including Johnny Depp, Lily Collins, Jude Law, Sean Penn, Kate Moss and Meryl Streep. 5. Early Days – With this stripped down acoustic ballad rock Producer Ethan Johns, takes the listener on a journey through Paul’s early days in the music business. This is done by using a very amount minimal instrumentation such as a bass, harmonium, some percussion, acoustic guitar and well harmonized soft backing vocals to showcase the very descriptive wandering story-telling lead vocals that sees Paul reflecting on the early days on his Beatles career with both fondness and pain as he relives the good times, by remembering the memory of those who are lost (John Lennon) as well as remember the painful, rough times, when the band was first getting started. “Dressed in black from head to toe/Two guitars across our backs, We would walk the city roads. Seeking someone who would listen to the music. That we were writing down at home” During the chorus Paul also defends the band’s success, in response to allot of today’s critics and young people's who often tend to have a dismissive attitude about the band; doubting their success and influence on a large portion of today’s music culture. 6. New – This Mark Ronson produced title track song has been called the closest thing to The Beatles era sound on this record. Like “Save Us” this song seems to follow the classic McCartney song writing mold, in that it is relatively short and lyrically simple while still managing to be unique by blending the production style of all four producers together to create an overall simple yet additively catchy lead single for this album. From the start the structure of this song really caught my attention, as it seems that this song does not have a traditional defined chorus, rather it seems like the song is just one solid piece of instrumentation that flows together. It opens up with an upbeat, bouncy mellotron intro, that with the help of some drum driven instrumentation, that supports the lead and backing vocals while gradually building into a vocal dominated chorus, in which the main verse of the chorus is repeated and accented with a horn section of trumpets and saxophones as well as a few electric guitar riffs to add another layer of interest. The song closes with some well-harmonized fading group vocals. Lyrically this song sees Paul reflecting on his on his entire life, particularly focusing on his “New” busy life with his marriage to Nancy Shevell, while also referring to his past love life and Beatles days.
7. Appreciate - I will admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of this song when I first heard it because of the way the electric sounds were used within the song but after watching the “Making Of New” VH1 Special, this song has started to grown on me. I think this change of opinion is based off of not only my interest in the amount of unique sounds and instruments that went into making this song, but also the song placement on the album, as it comes right after the uplifting “New,” the contrast makes for one of the jarring moments on the album. This Giles Martin produced track can be described as a multi-layered modern ballad, that sounds like something out of the 70s or 80s electronic era of rock music, as this song has a drastically moodier, darker electronic sound than the rest of the album. It opens with a pounding drum backbeat that travels through the song under some sonic, spacey guitar-laced instrumentation that flows in the chorus of the song. The chorus, which is built around a vocal and some catchy distorted, filter-filled lead and backing vocals that repeat the words “Appreciate, Appreciate”. The vocals of the chorus are placed above some looping instrumentation that was created with the use of a Brunell Tape Recorder, a machine that Paul used in his Beatles days to record different sounds at different speeds, often recording and redubbing the sound until he got the desired effect. The song closes with a gritty, raw guitar solo that sounds like something you might hear on Paul’s 2008 album as “The Fireman” entitled “Electric Arguments”. 8. Everybody Out There – This upbeat Giles Martin produced radio-friendly, crowd pleasing rocker is instrumentally one of my favorite tracks on the album. o It starts out with a layered acoustic guitar and energetic pounding drum beat, with backing vocal and electric guitar highlights, that flows into an upbeat chorus that is built around a catchy “cal, and response” or crowd sing-a-long vocal and style that is supported by a pounding drum led beat, along with some live sounding backing vocals by the McCartney Family Chorus. The studio version of the song closes with some raw sounding signature screaming vocals from Paul as well as some “Morse code” sounding static. o Lyrically, this song is filled with some simple, upbeat pop sounding lyrics that encourage the listener to “do some good before you say goodbye” (Just Be A Better Person). Overall, while I feel like the song message is a little corny I think the strong instrumentation and catchy vocal performance will grow on any doubters, like myself, after a couple of listens. 9. Hosanna- This Ethan John produced acoustic ballad mixes psychedelic and a blues-rock sound together to create a sound that is interesting and different, but could admittedly take a couple of listens before you get into it. It opens with a very psychedelic beat that is placed under some layered electric and acoustic guitars that flow into a slow-paced psychedelic and acoustic chorus that is build around some deep and rather heartfelt lyrics in which the word “Hosanna” is repeated multiple times.
o Every one of us goes through rough patches in our lives; it may seem like we won’t make it out in one piece. This song seems to both capture that exact relieved/relaxed feeling you get after you go through something difficult, in this case speaking of Paul’s new found love and happiness with wife Nancy Shevell after his messy divorce. While attempting to inspire people who may be struggling to continue to see the light at the end of the tunnel to get to that happier place. 10. I Can Bet- This Giles Martin produced track helps the album rebound to form after the admittedly slow-paced, almost boring “Hosanna”. It starts with a pounding drum beat that flows immediately into some keyboard and acoustic guitar paired instrumentation that reminds me of a lot of early Beatles material with its fun, upbeat and up tempo vibe that flows into the chorus with the help of some descriptive vocals; the chorus features some looping acoustic guitar chords, with an added interesting electronic guitar solo and simple, repetitive verses that are sure to be stuck in your head. The song closes with some more psychedelic and electronic inspired instrumentation that sounds like it was taken off of Paul’s 2008 album as “The Fireman” entitled “Electric Arguments”. 11. Looking At Her-This Giles Miles produced slow-paced ballad is one of the unique songs on the album because of the up and down tempo. I would also describe this song as a cross between the slow-paced acoustic ballad “Hosanna” and the more modern, electronic filled “Appreciate”, topped with an overall 1980’s feel. It starts on a relatively slow note with a driving electric guitar, drum, and wandering vocal style pairing that, with the help of some electronic sounding drums, is built around a louder, moodier synthesizer and acoustic guitar laced chorus that takes over the song at points before closing on a very sudden note. Lyrically this song is able Paul’s Nancy, his love for her and how everybody notices her in a crowd, turning to really only looking at her; this causes him to become even wilder for her. The way the lyrics and vocals of the song are around molded and change based on the around the instrumentation really interested me as the song starts in a subtle, relaxed mood then gradually gets more emotional and crazier as the song progresses in the chorus. 12. Road –The standard version of the album closes out with this underrated Paul Epworth produced track that can be characterized as not only one of the most complex songs on the album, but also one of my favorite on the entire album. From the start this song has a very layered electronic vibe as it opens with a mix of acoustic rock to electronic instrumentation that travels through the song under the wandering lead vocals of Paul; this introduction and first portion of the song reminds me of the Danhi Harrison project “newno2 “, and the song “Station “off of their 2012 release entitled “thefearofmissingout”. The chorus, which is built around a pairing of louder, almost shouting vocals and an assortment of some interestingly arranged instrumentation, is basically two songs in one as the underlying instrumentation, which includes an electronic sounding piano, hand clap sounding backbeats as well as echoey catchy backing vocals that almost seem to form a
second song that serves as the backbone for the original instrumentation. The peak of the song has to be the end of the chorus when Paul sings the line “heading for the light” over a loud and echoey instrumental chorus. Bonus Tracks: 13. Turned Out – This Ethan John produced fun, upbeat song is another underrated song on the album. It opens with a charging electric guitar riff that floats around the song supporting the acoustic guitar d drum beat pairing along with some great lead vocals from Paul, highlighted by the line “I took a walk into the fire, when I heard you calling me, I took a chance and what good thing, it turned out to be”. 14. Get Me Out of Here – This Giles Martin produced song is one of my favorites on the album. This song has a heavy blues rock influence that make Paul sounds like an old blues man backed by a layered acoustic guitar drum beat. This leads into a simple chorus where the line “Get me out of here” repeated often over very minimal instrumentation. The instrumentation of the chorus focuses on a Kora, an African instrument with three bass strings that Paul discovered while playing on the African Express. This instrument was used in two ways with this song, one as the bass line as the bass strings rhythm fit well with the original beat that it eventually became the bass line, and also by using it as a percussion instrument as they banged it against the floor to create the low sounding that we hear during the chorus. 15. Scared (Hidden) - After a 20 pause at the end of “Get Me Out Of Here” this song begins, it is a simple Giles Martin produced song features Paul on piano singing an emotionally charging tender ballad in which the lyrics paint a great vulnerability for the person in the song as they are having trouble figuring out how to express their love to someone else. Favorite Songs: I liked 13 of the 15 songs on the deluxe edition with my least favorites being “Hosanna” and “Scared” My Thoughts: Coming into the writing and recording process of this album Paul has been very busy over the last few years, both personally, with his marriage to Nancy Shevell and professionally, with the Ocean’s Kingdom ballet score as well as his jazz and ragtime inspired album Kisses On The Bottom, which pays tribute to his late father Jim. This different music al style and overall “New” mindset has continued with this album in a couple of areas. Production – As I said earlier in this review, Paul worked with four different producers during the course of this album. I believe this fact benefited this album overall because it showcased
the separate personalities and styles of each producer by creating an array of different sounds, and elements that are interesting and rather fun to listen too. o Also while working with the four producers, especially Mark Ronson & Paul Epworth, who bring a different youthfulness to the project, Paul stated in the “Making Of New” VH1 documentary, that he has learned new ways to makes song from a lot of the elements he already knew, such as improvising, writing, layering and writing songs based around and that will sound good in a live performance. All of the above elements can definitely be heard on this record in unique and different ways that I believe only Paul McCartney could come up with. I also think it’s great that Paul, who has been through it all, is still will to learn new things and experiment with new sounds to create an even better record. Album Sound – I would describe the sound over of this album, both lyrically and musically as a journey through Paul’s musical career. As parts of this album having a very clean and polished sound, while other parts have a very raw, uncut and spur of the moment feel that not only remind me of Paul’s Wings and later days when his musical desires drove him to experiment with his sound more, as we saw with his 2008 album as his alter ego, “The Fireman” entitled Electric Arguments. There also seems to be a lot of genre fusion, with some blues-rock and alternative inspired sounds on much of this album. On many of the individual songs, there are signature Paul McCartney moments, including his signature yell and familiar guitar riffs from this pre and post Beatles and Wings day. Lyrically – The lyrics certainly seem to reflect the “New” concept of the album as a most of the songs are love orientated in some way, either focusing on Paul’s desire to find love or focusing on Paul’s new married life with wife Nancy. Of course there are expectations as some songs are rather sentimental with Paul looking back on his early life, both personally and professional while appreciating what he has in the present. Overall Paul seems genuinely happy, which is good for him as well as his fans because now he is able to write more hopeful, happier, and cheerful songs that are sure to touch many. In closing: I believe this album has something for everyone: If you are already a Paul/Beatles fan I think you will appreciate the more lyrically sentimental songs that bring you back to his pre and post Beatles days – both because of the polished sound as well as the lyrics, which focus on his days with the Beatles and growing up as a child (example “Queenie Eye”). If you are a Wings/Paul solo or general rock music fan I believe you will like this album because of its mix of raw, uncut and different sounds, with a slight blues-rock influence on track like “Hosanna”, “On My Way To Work” and “Appreciate” as well as the fun, upbeat, catchy songs like “Alligator” and “Everybody Out There”
Links Used For Background and Track Information: http://www.examiner.com/list/paul-mccartney-s-new-a-track-by-track-review/4-queenie-eyeproduced-by-paul-epworth http://ultimateclassicrock.com/paul-mccartney-queenie-eye/ http://www.popmatters.com/review/175864-paul-mccartney-new/
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