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DEAR MUSIC APPRECIATORS
, February 7, 2012
This review is from: Kisses on the Bottom (Audio CD)
Dear Music Appreciators,
If you've always wanted to get all up close and personal with "The Cute Beatle" then this may be the album for you. Notice Paul with his arms full of flowers on the cover of his new album - an album loaded with his close-mic vocals on old-fashioned romantic standards...released just a week before Valentines' Day...he might as well be saying "will you be my valentine?"
Whether it's a calculated marketing ploy or just a coincidence of timing, this is certainly a good album. But it will probably divide some of McCartney's fans and may not win him many new ones outside of those who enjoy "the standards."
If you're looking for an album full of Beatlesque singer-songwriter brilliance then you'd best look elsewhere. This is mostly jazzy, old-timey stuff from the 1920's and 30's that a young McCartney first heard from his father's piano. In the same way that many actors just want to direct, there are many singers who just want to sing the standards, and thanks in part to Willie Nelson's 1978 blockbuster STARDUST many of them eventually do. Rod Stewart is another prime example of a star who cashed in big on this same concept, though he drew a fair amount of criticism as well. And then of course there's fellow Beatle Ringo Starr's 1970 effort SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY.
After initially thinking "oh brother" (before hearing the album) I changed my tune pretty quickly about 25 seconds into the opening track - a 1935 tune that has been covered by a host of singers including Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat "King" Cole, and Dean Martin - McCartney gives it just the right amount of jazzy snazz and I found myself thinking "maybe he can do this after all - maybe he's just the right singer for the job."
For many music fans, their personal reaction to an album of cover songs can depend largely on their familiarity with the songs and the various previously released cover versions of those songs. I'm guessing your average fan will know about half of these by title alone. A personal high point of this record for me was the Irving Berlin classic "Always." McCartney gives a respectful and subtly nuanced performance, and I was unfamiliar enough with the song and all its versions so as to make this tune virtually new to me. A low point was probably "Get Yourself Another Fool" but only because I was already familiar with a beautiful rendition by Patty Griffin on her LIVE FROM THE ARTISTS DEN album, and then after I heard McCartney sing it I decided to pull up an old Sam Cooke version, and...well let's just say Sam Cooke can sing. Man can he sing. I also discovered that "Home (When Shadows Fall)" is another tune that both McCartney and Sam Cooke have now covered, and again I was hooked on Sam Cooke's version.
So thanks Paul for helping me realize how amazing Sam Cooke is (there are still some legends I just haven't gotten around to yet) and for delivering a stellar collection of standards just in time for V-Day. McCartney's version of any of these songs could probably play in the background of some big budget romantic comedy while the leading characters canoodle each other all over New York City.
There are in fact two McCartney originals on this album. "My Valentine" is probably the most intriguing of the two because it seems to fit right in with the other songs, as if it was written 70 or 80 years ago - and if it was I'm betting it would have been heavily covered and perhaps even have found its own slot in "The Great American Songbook."
If you only want pop-rock music from pop-rock legends then you should turn around and walk away, but if you're open-minded and feel like you could use some old school atmospheric romance in your life, then this album will give you a nice little injection of exactly what you're looking for.
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