Paul McCartney: Kisses on the Bottom

A week from today, Paul McCartney’s new album, Kisses on the Bottom, comes out.

When it was first announced a few months ago, it was described as an album of standards, the songs that McCartney grew up with in the 1950s that inspired him and John Lennon as they were forming the Quarry Men and writing their first songs.

NPR has the album streaming on their website here. I listened to it twice at the office today, and I have it playing in the background here at home now.

This is not what you expect from a Paul McCartney album. What I expected was an album like Run Devil Run, the album he recorded after Linda McCartney’s death where he pulled out some old 1950s songs and recorded them.

But that’s not what Kisses on the Bottom is. It’s a jazz album. It’s the kind of album you’d expect from Tony Bennett. Imagine Melody Gardot’s work, or Norah Jones’ first album, but with Paul McCartney, and that’s very much the feel of Kisses on the Bottom.

There’s nothing here that would be out of place on WSHA, a jazz radio station from Raleigh, North Carolina that I enjoy listening to.

It’s not all standards, though. McCartney penned two standards-esque songs himself, and his “My Valentine” is lushly romantic, with flamenco-styled guitar work from Eric Clapton. McCartney’s compositions don’t sound out of place, though. To me, they simply sounded like songs I hadn’t heard before, like many of these 50s standards that my grandparents might have known.

There’s something weird about hearing the man who sang “Live and Let Die” or “Band on the Run” singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon” or even “The Inch Worm.” Yet, hearing McCartney sing “The Inch Worm” is also delightful; McCartney just seems to be enjoying himself.

If there’s anything I to criticize about the album, it’s that McCartney finally sounds like the seventy year-old man that he is. His voice isn’t as strong as it used to be, and yet I think it works here because the songs themselves are so laid back and so pleasant that they don’t need the throat-ripping voice behind “Long Tall Sally” or “Oh Darling!”

This is a fun album. It’s fun to listen to because it’s so unexpected. It doesn’t demand anything. It just is.

I can’t wait to buy Kisses on the Bottom next week. 🙂

Originally published here.