Courtesy of Capitol Records

Courtesy of Capitol Records

September 20, 2018

TEST SPIN | Paul McCartney – Egypt Station

Print More

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most greatest musicians of all time. From his Beatles years to his successful Wings albums and James Bond theme songs, his music choices have almost always been varied and bold. In recent years, however, McCartney’s albums have not carried the same interest and uniqueness as some of his earlier solo work, and not even close to that of his Beatles hits.

His new album, Egypt Station, released earlier this month, is filled with delightful songs, many of which flow with a sense of familiarity as keen listeners can hear similarities that fall somewhere between Beatles’ hits and McCartney’s early solo discography. On Egypt Station, when the standout songs work, it is amazing — McCartney highlights his skills as both a descriptive lyricist who allows audiences an intimate look into his life, and as a one of a kind musician able to blend genres and instruments with ease.

A few songs fall flat, however, including the second single off the album, “Fuh You.” The Ryan Tedder produced song feels forced and almost as if would have better suited a different artist, such as Bruno Mars or Janelle Monáe. The pop-forward suggestive song is one of the misses for me on the album with lyrics that becoming grating with each repetitive “fuh.”

Maybe my favorite song off the album is the closing track, a combination of three different songs, “Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link,” clocking in at six minutes and 23 seconds. This long running time features an amazing rock guitar intro that quickly shifts into funk, while showcasing McCartney’s vocal range as he rips through choruses and bridges. The song occasionally features auto-tuned vocals, which makes it more interesting and unpredictable. Thematically, the song deals with McCartney’s struggle to find peace and home, a vulnerability best expressed during the bridge with the lines “Save my soul and set it free / Free to fly home / There’s a place I’m meant to be / Back, back home” and the outro of “I’ve been naked for so long / So long, so long, now.” The confessional aspect of this song is furthered by not only by the lyrics, but also the intimate jazz sound brought to life by harmonious sax and bass sections.

The lead single, “Come On To Me,” is a sweet track about first impressions that sonically and lyrically harkens back to the Beatles classic, “I’ve Just Seen A Face.” The 2018 McCartney song, though, features more instruments and a spectacular sax solo that makes me yearn for a live performance collaboration with sax virtuoso, Kamasi Washington. “Come On To Me,” sets the tone of the album: a mix of genres and influences that clearly span decades. It’s a feel-good and catchy rock song and after each listen I like it even more.

Two of the more interesting inclusions on the album are the first and penultimate tracks, respectively titled “Opening Station” and “Station II.” Both feature city noises and choral overlays reminiscent of the opening noises and sounds in The Beatles’s hit “Get Back,” which give the listener a feeling of familiarity.

While Paul is wonderful at singing songs about love and finding someone to spend his days with, one politically charged anthem is clearly a standout on this record and thematically deals with uncertainty and anger especially in today’s political climate. “Despite Repeated Warnings” is a diatribe railing against a captain who has “his own agenda” with clear allusions to President Donald Trump. The title itself reminds the listener of the infamous admonishment from Mitch Mcconnell toward Senator Elizabeth Warren when he stated that “despite repeated warning nevertheless she persisted.” The blistering chorus urges the audience that the only safe option is to “Grab the keys and lock him up / If we can do it / We can save the day.” The backing track is epic with interesting guitar solos that somehow sound futuristic yet with a distinctively 70s flare. The politically leaning song reminds the listener of how potent a political activist McCartney can be, all while being able to churn out savant-like guitar solos.

Overall, Egypt Station marks one of the best Paul McCartney solo albums in recent decades. The album can feel lopsided with some forgettable songs that veer toward sounding trite, but it has strong standouts. While McCartney could rest on his laurels as one of the best artists of all time, he is still capable of producing amazing songs that push his variety as an artist.

 

Ashley Davila is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached amd395@cornell.edu.