AUDIO JUNKIE: ‘McCartney III’: A bookmark to an ongoing stellar career

Published January 4, 2021, 6:47 AM

by Punch Liwanag

Paul McCartney recently released his third “solo” album entitled “McCartney III.” Solo is relative of course, seeing he’s released hundreds of recordings under his name.

Think of it this way, “McCartney III” is the third solo album that he wrote, recorded and produced by himself in its entirety. The first one being the eponymous solo debut of 1970 and the subsequent 1980 record “McCartney II.”

We’ll call them bookmarks to a still ongoing stellar pop career seeing as Sir Paul released these albums to start off new decades, or during personal life crossroads.

The first one did coincide right after the band breakup heard ‘round the world.  And what was the reason this time around? Why the lockdown of course! Just like everybody else, Macca was subjected to the same stay-at-home orders when the pandemic hit. Cooped up in his daughter Mary’s farm with his grandkids and family, Macca did what came to him naturally and that’s to write songs. Farm, family, upheaval; the same conditions he was in fifty years ago when he recorded the first “McCartney” album.

Relaxed and straightforward, it opens with an acoustic guitar instrumental in “Long Tailed Winter Bird.” It’s just Macca piling sounds one on top of the other, with the occasional chorus of ‘Do you miss me? Do you feel me? Do you touch me?’ We imagine Paul is saying ‘look how easy writing tunes are for me.’

‘McCartney III’ album cover

And there is that easygoing vibe on the songs here. Listening closely to “Find My Way,” it’s somewhat reminiscent of “Ob-la-di-Ob-la-da.” Or at least the feel on this catchy new song are those that we’ve heard before from him before.  It’s a positive song for the times as he sings ‘you never used to be afraid of days like these, but now you’re overwhelmed by your anxieties / let me help you out let me be your guide, I can help you reach the love you feel inside.’

The beautiful acoustic guitar motif that open “Pretty Boys” is up there with Macca’s best acoustic guitar intros of all time that started all the way from “Here There And Everywhere.” And just as well as the theme of the song evokes images of the past, and we see a young band (‘the pretty boys’) having their pictures taken for the first of a talented young photographer. That could be Paul giving Astrid Kircher, who died in 2020 at age 82, a nod.

And speaking of pretty, acoustic songs, “The Kiss Of Venus” is one of them and throws us back to memories of “Mother Nature’s Son.” Even the harpsichord solo in the middle feels like Paul giving “Strawberry Fields Forever” a wink.

While Paul McCartney’s voice sounds weathered in much of the songs in the new record, there are times that a young Macca in his mid-30’s is singing on “Seize The Day.” And more so on closing song  “Winter Bird / When Winter Comes,” wherein Paul sounds like only a few summers has gone after he sang “Blackbird.”

“McCartney III” has sonic heaviness in it as well. The bluesy guitar riff that open and fill “Lavatory Lil,” and the deep groovy fuzz that slither on “Slidin’” are worthy rockers from this Little Richard disciple.

At eleven songs, “McCartney III” is well worth the listen. “Deep Deep Feeling,” “Deep Down,” and “Women And Wives” are classic rock radio type songs that bear the McCartney sonic stamp.

“McCartney III” is a snapshot of Paul McCartney, who at 78, can still deliver.