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McCartney Puts Out Eclectic Mix in Latest Album

‘Driving Rain’ Represents Artist’s Latest, Greatest Attempt to Recapture Earlier Spirit

By Sandra Gonzalez

staff writer

Paul McCartney’s new album Driving Rain, released by Capitol Records on November 13th, features 15 songs with so many different themes and characteristics of numerous genres, that it’s hard not to find a song to like. With different stylings such as country, blues, reminiscent themes from the Jets and the Beatles (both McCartney’s former groups) and also even a uniquely serene song entitled “Riding Into Jaipur” provide a variety that is unparalleled in any of McCartney’s previous works.

The first track, “Lonely Road” sounds like his previous solo album, Flaming Pie, released in 1997. In McCartney’s later solo albums, he enjoys singing a higher part coupled with a dub over of him singing a lower part. It’s an interesting effect and one that seems to work because it has been used on Flaming Pie as well as Driving Rain. “Lonely Road” is another one of the bluesy type songs featured on this album, and it really shows off McCartney’s passion for music. It’s an excellent showpiece for him.

“From a Lover to a Friend” is a soft ballad but unfortunately, McCartney’s weakening voice is more evident here, and it is more apparent that he doesn’t have the same control over his voice as he once did. I was delighted to notice the great amount of blues on this album. It’s a bit of a shift for McCartney but one that is welcomed nonetheless.

“She’s Given Up Talking” is not as great as the other songs and seems a little frivolous. McCartney said that the song was inspired by the daughter of a fried who refused to talk at all while she was at school. This song features a more folk-like tune to it, and again, is a change for McCartney.

The album’s title track, “Driving Rain” sounds like a song out of the 80’s, and for most of us, a description like that makes us cringe. It has more energy, but seems out of place from the previous songs because it’s insincere in its excitement and intensity.

“Your Way” starts out like “Rocky Raccoon” from the Beatles. I don’t know what happened when McCartney got older, but I like the manifestation of his music. McCartney has much more control over his voice here, and shows off his talent much more than “From a Lover To a Friend,” even thought the message isn’t as profound. Although his voice sounds stronger, his voice seems to get lost among the other music because there’s just too much going on.

“Spinning On An Axis” continues with the folk/country-like sounds of the album. Driving Rain is a very fun album, and it’s just playing. McCartney isn’t hoping for a number one hit, or looking for a comeback, he’s simply sharing his love of music to others and perhaps increasing his following to include a younger generation.

“Heather” reminds me more of a song from the days of McCartney when he played with the Jets. The choruses in the background sound much like the old days of the Beatles from the Magical Mystery Tour. McCartney actually named this song after his fiancÉ, Heather Mills, who is significantly younger than him. She apparently heard him piddling with a song, and she asked which Beatles song it was because she was too young to know all of them. He said that it wasn’t a Beatles song, and he had just made it up. She insisted that he make a recording of the song, and thus he dubbed it Heather.

“Back in the Sunshine Again” was composed by McCartney and his son James McCartney five years ago in Arizona. McCartney commented on it’s genesis, “It’s a good time, back in the sun song-about leaving behind all our troubles and moving forward into the sunshine, which also fits with my present mood in life, my present situation.”

“Riding Into Jaipur” definitely sounds like a Beatles song, and is extremely peaceful and serene. This, too, is uncharacteristic of McCartney’s music as of late and even in terms of the other songs on the album, but it is a great song nonetheless.

McCartney and John Lennon were the brains behind the music for the Beatles and somehow, when McCartney left the Beatles, he was able to define his own style yet keep close the very things that made the Beatles so endearing, which were the chord progressions and piano or orchestra accompaniment. McCartney’s unique style, and also the manifestation of his music from previous albums, makes him an absolutely amazing artist.

All of the music features a lackadaisical swinging beat to it, and for the most part, this album is different from anything McCartney has attempted. Driving Rain is actually McCartney’s first album since the death of his long time wife, Linda. She died on April 17, 1998 after losing a long battle with breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 1995. I believe the change in mood of this album as compared to previous albums can be attributed to the loss of his wife and the beginning of a new relationship. I’ll be interested to see if the albums to come will follow in the footsteps of Driving Rain or regress to the albums of old with more of a Beatles influence.