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Macca Plays the Cocktail Lounge
on February 7, 2012
Let's face it - these cover albums from veteran, heavily-moneyed legends of rock and pop are often pretty mundane, or at the very least inconsequential. In spite of this, Paul McCartney delivers quite well on "Kisses on the Bottom," with his iconic, velvety voice singing an eclectic, elaborate array of some of the best tunes ever written - as well as two extremely impressive new ones.
The gorgeous, lilting "My Valentine" recalls a fond romantic memory without a trace of sap or sickly-sweetness. It is a damn solid McCartney original that, save for his now-huskier vocal range, would fit in well on one of the classic Beatles albums. "Only Our Hearts" is similar in its theme and melancholic edge, but better showcases McCartney's expressive, stirring lower register. Eric Clapton plays guitar on the latter while Stevie Wonder contributes harmonica on the former. It helps to have friends.
This is not a Valentine's Day album, but it is very fortunately released in the days leading up to the holiday, for its ambiance is certainly warm, balmy and lush - that is to say, romantic. Whether he's singing the nuances of the evocative "Bye Bye Blackbird" or the timeless, drippy "Always," McCartney's delivery is consistently restrained, contemplative and sentimental, yet, importantly, he never sounds insincere or premeditated. Each selection is well-rendered and straightforward.
Much of the reason for this cohesion is owed to Diana Krall's backing band, hired specifically for this project. Backing McCartney with a fervent glow on the likes of the brilliant "The Glory of Love" and the relatively funky "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," they earn their keep here.
McCartney has set many records in his long and varied career, and "Kisses on the Bottom" won't break any of them, yet it is also a highly listenable set of mellow, lovely tunes that goes perfect with a bottle of wine, whether or not the evening skews romantic.
(Certain retailers carry different editions, some featuring bonus tracks, so do your homework.)