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.
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