CD REVIEW: McCartney’s ‘Driving Rain’ is mixed bag

Posted 1:00 p.m. Nov. 15

By Alex Kingsbury
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

MANCHESTER, England – It is impossible to listen to a Paul McCartney album and not compare it to his earlier work with the Beatles. With a catalogue including “Yesterday,” “Get Back,” and “Blackbird” it is difficult not to. It is a fact that dogged both McCartney and John Lennon throughout their solo careers, and fair or not, it is still the first reaction I had when hearing McCartney’s new offering Driving Rain.

Driving Rain is a worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection and with the addition of David Kahne the album brings the recently domestic Macca sound a fresh edge.

The album was recorded in a five week sessions with studio musicians who didn’t see the music before McCartney arrived in the studio to begin recording. This was done purposefully, Macca says, to regain the spontaneity and freshness heard on many Beatles tracks recorded in the same way. This “live jam session” feeling is evident through out for example the ten-plus minute jam at the end of “Rinse the Raindrops.”

The album is more ambitious and experimental musically then his last effort Flaming Pie, which was clearly well produced and tightly mixed. Driving Rain is a fresh and at times youthful sounding.

Driving Rain is a mixed bag. McCartney has songs for his late wife Linda as well as new tributes for his fianc?e Heather Mills. Love and happiness dominate the album and it is evident that McCartney has not the contentment and optimism that has dominated his solo work.

On the whole the album is strong. McCartney offers strong and at times vulnerable vocals that underscore the thoughts of loss, mourning, and new love that have dominated his life in the past few years.

Though the album features gems like “Lonely Road” and “It Must have been Magic” there are too many songs included. McCartney has said in interviews that he had become slightly lazy in his lyric writing in the post Beatle years, due to the lack of the competitive songwriting duo and later trio of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison in the group. I found myself finishing verses on the first listen to some songs given the predictable rhyme — “Loving Flame” and “Riding to Jaipur” for example.

McCartney has been very public in the past few years, both as a gracefully grieving husband and a pained trubador in the recent Concert for New York City. His latest album will not please all his fans — possibly his harshest critics, but Driving Rain is honest and reflect an aging rocker who still has music to make.

Driving Rain is due out in stores Nov. 13.

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