PAUL McCARTNEY – Egypt Station (2018)
In the five years since PAUL McCARTNEY‘s last album, 2013’s New, the onetime Beatles star worked on a video-game project and collaborated with Kanye West and Rihanna on some songs. So much for turning back time. And on “Egypt Station“, his new solo album, McCartney splits the difference between nostalgia and looking forward, checking in with his spunkiest, horniest and most biting album in years.
At 76, McCartney has no intentions of acting like an old man. That’s the difference between trying to stop time and carrying on despite that march. And it’s a difference McCartney relishes on “Egypt Station”, an adventure that’s framed like a musical journey.
Starting with the brief “Opening Station” that vaguely recalls the intro to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Egypt Station” makes stops at some familiar McCartney locales: there’s heart-rending balladeering (the melancholic, piano-based “I Don’t Know” is quite beautiful—and one of his finest slow ones in many years—while the gentle, orchestrated “Hand in Hand” is typical Macca sweetness married to a memorable melody).
There are finger-picked acoustic guitar-fueled ditties, a la “Blackbird” and “I Will” (“Happy with You,” which seems to detail McCartney’s easing into both newfound marital bliss and life as a doting grandfather), and there are a sack full of upbeat, almost annoyingly catchy tunes that ultimately say nothing but are damned fun to listen to: the snappy rocker “Who Cares,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ram or Red Rose Speedway, might just be the best thing here.
And there’s an earnest, semi-anthemic plea called “People Want Peace” that’s a damn sight better than McCartney’s strident, post-9/11 tune, “Freedom.” Another top choice is the sweeping, mid-tempo “Dominoes,” an adroit, inspired McCartney pop song as only he can (still) write ‘em.
But McCartney doesn’t just traverse familiar-sounding territory on “Egypt Station”: “Come on to Me” and the semi-naughty “Fuh You” sound like they could be current chart hits for any number of anonymous singers. Still, although they’re both relatively basic in structure, lyrically shallow and more groove than melody—think “Dance Tonight,” from Memory Almost Full—they lodge firmly in the brain after a listen or two.
McCartney’s voice does sound a bit weathered on some of the ballads, but he seems to be embracing it and is able to use it to his advantage; for example, the way he intones “I used to feel bad” on “Happy with You” (drawing out the final word of the sentence) gives the line more resonance.
The grinding, goofy “Caesar Rock” is another song of note, with McCartney trotting out the 2018 model of his “Monkberry Moon Delight” voice (still sounding pretty damned tough), while the entertaining, seven-minute medley
“Despite Repeated Warnings” uses some nautical lyrical metaphors to detail what sounds like the current U.S. political situation.
The album closes with another nifty medley, “Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link,” which rocks quite righteously, particularly for a 76-year-old.
To sum it up, “Egypt Station” stands as McCartney’s most consistent release in the last fifteen years.
There’s a renewed sense of energy and purpose reconciling the legend who reshaped popular music in the 20th century with the artist who still has something to say. He’s not giving up yet.
As time moves on, one of music’s great voices won’t stand still.
01 – Opening Station
02 – I Don’t Know
03 – Come On To Me
04 – Happy With You
05 – Who Cares
06 – Fuh You
07 – Confidante
08 – People Want Peace
09 – Hand In Hand
10 – Dominoes
11 – Back In Brazil
12 – Do It Now
13 – Caesar Rock
14 – Despite Repeated Warnings
15 – Station II
16 – Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link