The Complete EP Collection
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The release and international success of James McCartney's debut digital-only EPs, Available Light and Close At Hand, introduced a talented singer-songwriter and his music to the world. Now, James McCartney embarks on the next phase of that introduction with his first-ever physical release: The Complete EP Collection. This special two-disc set, produced by David Kahne and Paul McCartney, includes James's debut EPs in their entirety, along with an additional EP's worth of five never before released bonus tracks.
The Complete EP Collection is the result of James McCartney working on and off in the studio for over two years. He played most of the instruments, including bass, guitars, and piano - and of course, he sings. ''I really wanted to wait until I had the strongest possible collection of songs before introducing them to the world,'' says McCartney. ''I so believe in this music, and these songs. With the two digital EPs being released earlier this year and now this special two-disc set arriving, I'm right where I've hoped I would be.''
The songs on Available Light, Close At Hand, and the five exclusive bonus tracks on The Complete EP Collection were recorded at Hog Hill Mill Studios in Sussex, Abbey Road Studios in London, and SeeSquared Studios and Avatar Studios in New York.
Rolling Stone calls the opening track on Available Light, Angel, a ''light and cheerful pop track.'' The upbeat nature of Angel and the innocence of the song My Friend are deftly balanced on Available Light by the dark and dynamic tracks Glisten and Denial, and finally framed with a heartfelt rendition of Neil Young's classic, Old Man.
If Available Light is the 'side one' of James McCartney's debut, then Close At Hand is very much the second side, and James had specific ideas for it. ''There is only one thing to do with high expectations, and that is meet them,'' says McCartney. ''I wanted to follow Available Light with something that showed a progression...that had an even deeper meaning, both spiritually and musically.'' From the first moments of Close At Hand, that progression is crystal clear. Above driving guitar lines McCartney asks, ''Are you receiving what you're believing / Are you sure just what you are,'' in the EP's opening track, I Only Want To Be Alone. The powerful vulnerability of Wings Of A Lightest Weight is the expression of a son's feelings of love for his mother (''Watching you fly away / Whilst your wings of a lightest weight / Carry you back through the heat of the wind / Carry you back to me''). 12-string-guitar arpeggios reminiscent of Glisten from Available Light return for the uplifting song The Sound Of My Voice. The playfully esoteric Else And Else But Dead is followed by an emotional tour de force, Jesus Be My Friend, where McCartney plumbs the depths of his own convictions (''Boulder in a stream / Water on a stone / God is close at hand / You never understood / Just who I really was / Just who I really am''). Fallen Angel provides a hopeful dawn after this dark night of the soul.
''Some artists are happy doing the same thing again and again, but my favorite artists are the ones who evolve and grow, and I want to be one of them,'' says James. With Available Light, Close At Hand, and now The Complete EP Collection, James McCartney has again and again dared to raise the stakes, and in doing so he's succeeded in filling some very big shoes...his own.
Strong pop hooks. --Rolling Stone
James has inherited his father's musical gifts and more... It's not easy doing this sort of thing; in fact, it's down right brave. --Parade
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Top customer reviews
Maybe I'm an angel waiting to start to live my life
Maybe if you could make it then that would be great
Let me tell you something that you don't know
My love for you has always been shown
I've had some hard times in my life
But I don't want to feel them anymore
Overall, James is his own man. Some fans of the elder McCartney may like and approve it, but I believe he will win an audience of his generation and younger. The piano and use of violins expanded some songs beyond the rock palette. James will hopefully branch out into a diverse composer /arranger. The future may hold a place for another McCartney.
CD 1 Available Light has an excellent cover version of Neil Young's 'Old Man' but my favorite on CD1 has to be 'Angel' with `My Friend' running a very close second. Both `Glisten' and `Denial' have a darker edge to them but are emotive and powerful to say the least. The last 3 tracks on Available Light, again are completely different, `New York Times' and `Moonstar' being lighter, happier rock-pop compositions. While `I Love You Dad' has some amazing riffs on what sounds like either a Banjo or Ukulele in a soft but engaging melody.
My favorite track on CD 2 Close At Hand and of the entire collection is most definitely `I Only Want To Be Alone', with it's ululating, cascading vocals and it's energy. `Else And Else But Dead' has a lot going on, with different styles intertwined, even at one point, in between rock and pop guitar riffs, sounding almost like an RnB tune, which may not be the intention, but it certainly works for me!
`Jesus Be My Friend' is not a run of the mill happy-clappy Gospel song, listen closely to the lyrics on this one, it's much more complex than the title suggests, though both positive and powerful as a song. Both positive and powerful also best describes `Fallen Angel', where the lyrics seem to tell a story of redemption and renewal. `Spirit Guides' is uplifting and upbeat, as is `Your True Love' which is more Rock n' Roll, originally by Carl Perkins, the only other cover on the collection.
To me, James McCartney sounds like a man with a lot to say, about life, emotions, spiritualism, perhaps the human condition itself, which comes across subtly but powerfully through his lyrics. I look forward to hearing more!
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