September 3, 2018 Paul McCartney – Egypt Station (Album Review)
There are a few in Rock-n-Roll history so legendary that as soon as their name is uttered, everyone knows who they are. One would be Elvis Presley, another David Bowie, and of course, there is Paul McCartney. Yes, there are many other to list, but Paul McCartney is the only living legend of the three names mentioned. One of two surviving members of The Beatles, now at 76 years of age, not only is McCartney alive, healthy, and living a happy life, but he is still very active creatively. In fact, he has consistently toured, and shows no sign of slowing down as he prepares to release seventeenth overall solo album Egypt Station on Friday, September 7th via Capitol Records.
Before going any further, let us look at just how prolific Mr. McCartney has been as a musician and songwriter through the years. As everyone knows, he was one of the leading creative forces in the immensely talented fab four known as The Beatles. Adored by fans in every corner of the planet, he would also go on to tremendous success thereafter with his late wife Linda McCartney and their band Wings. Additionally, he has been no pushover as a solo artist as well, compiling a mass of hit songs over four decades. On top of that, in 1997 he was knighted Sir Paul McCartney by Queen Elizabeth the II and is one of the wealthiest musicians in the world. So, what does he really have left to accomplish at this stage in life? Simple, to satisfy his creative muse to write and record music.
Returning with his first studio album since 2013’s New, Egypt Station comes at a point in time where the fabric of society is tearing at the seams and it appears negativity has become the poison of choice. That in mind, McCartney has never really been all too political in his music, both as a Beatle or solo, but his ability to write songs has always brightened the outlook of many listeners. Hence, it is even more exciting to see him return with an extensive lot of new songs, fourteen to be exact with two interludes, in the collection he calls Egypt Station.
What does the title mean? Well, the title was previously used by McCartney on one of his paintings. The significance beyond such, remains to be seen. Recorded between Los Angeles, London, and Sussex, with production by Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters), with exception of “Fuh You,” which was co-written and produced by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, let us look at the album title almost like a fictional location for a story. First, we start with the opening interlude, “Opening Station,” and from there, it is off to various other stops along a imagination train ride through a musical odyssey. Are you ready to come aboard?
Now comfortable finding a seat, Egypt Station launches with the piano ballad “I Don’t Know.” Somber at first, it quickly picks up as McCartney lays the groundwork for an unknown journey, better known to all of us as life. Soon after, the tempo lifts up on other songs such as “Come On To Me,” “Who Cares,” and the aforementioned “Fuh You.” All strong offerings, “Fuh You” is perhaps the most modern, Pop-oriented tune of the bunch. As mentioned, co-written with Ryan Tedder, the collaboration sees McCartney transition into a new generation of listeners with a very catchy sound, all while retaining his unique authenticity.
With so much material in between the tracks of Egypt Station, there are other songs which should not be overlooked such as “Happy With You.” A beautiful acoustic guitar-driven piece, it is a touching look into McCartney’s life where he fights through hard times to find happiness at the end of the dark tunnels. Following, “Confidante” is another organic sounding track where the guitars lead the way, as “Hand In Hand” tells another part of life’s story through McCartney’s eyes with some touching vocals, piano, and strings. If McCartney’s humanity was not evident enough on these songs, others such as “Do It Now” and lengthy “Despite Repeated Warnings” will certainly relay the message that, just like the rest of us, he is also trying to figure it all out as he goes – regardless of money, success, and fame.
Balancing the more balladesque moments with cheerful tempoed songs, “People Want Peace” could be one of the most important of Egypt Station, merely based on the message alone. Going to the root of it all, McCartney simplifies any inter and outer conflict the world may be struggling through, exemplifying that, deep down, what all of us really want is peace. This is before “Dominoes” gives a sense of hope and “Back In Brazil” offers the most eclectic, colorful listening experience of the entire album. Touching a lot of sounds along the way, McCartney even offers more straight-ahead rockers such as “Caesar Rock” and the album closing with Wings-eque three part cut “Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link” where heavy, bluesy guitars are proudly unleashed.
It would be easy to sugarcoat and praise any new Paul McCartney music, just because of who he is. That is why it is so difficult to look at any of his work objectively, but truthfully, Egypt Station is a superior piece of music. Not because this is a Beatle, not because this is a living Rock-n-Roll legend, but because it sincerely is well-composed, thoughtful, and engaging from beginning to end. McCartney has no reason to just pump out music for the sake of such as this point in his life. That is why it is even more impressive that he has not lost touch with himself or the world around him. These songs are real, provocative at points, but also blanketed in a positive sensibility about life, love, and the moments in between. That is why CrypticRock gives Egypt Station 5 out of 5 stars.