The title of McCartney’s last album of all-new material, 2007’s Memory Almost Full, may have had some fans wondering if it was meant as some kind of farewell. Was he preparing to serve out the rest of his time by playing increasingly nostalgic live shows and helming crooner covers projects such as last year’s Kisses On The Bottom?
It’s pleasing to report, however, that New finds him at his most vital and engaged for some time, on possibly his most satisfying collection of songs since 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt. Not that there isn’t room for nostalgia: the busker-like strum of On My Way To Work places McCartney on the top deck of a bus for the first time since A Day In The Life, while the folky Early Days is a vivid series of snapshots of his and The Beatles’ beginnings (“Dressed in black from head to toe/Two guitars across our backs”).
New also contains some of his liveliest rockers in ages; the urgent, driving Save Us kicks proceedings off in style, while Everybody Out There echoes with joyous harmonies that recall his own early charges Badfinger. Ultimately, it may not include anything that will endure as long as some of his Wings classics, let alone the Fabs’, but it’s a powerful and persuasive album from a man whose innate knack for melody is still firing.