Former Fab Four frontman Paul McCartney offers a third entrant to this series of concept albums. McCartney was a poor debut; McCartney II was an album never planned for release. His latest album, McCartney III, concludes this makeshift trilogy rather well. The home-grown style of writing, editing and performing the entire album all alone does require skill, but transferring those obvious talents to this trilogy of albums hasn’t always been the easiest task. McCartney III, the latest album from McCartney, offers up his best chance of bringing some meaning or wholly engaging entertainment from this series, and he does so with relatively strong stylishness.
Eleven tracks and barely forty-five minutes to digest, McCartney offers up some palatable riffs and surprise highs with this one. There are the obvious throwaway moments, Lavatory Lil will rummage around for some bleak moment of meaning, but never find it. Long Tailed Winter Bird, for as nice an opener it is, can be tossed aside, especially when the succeeding track thwarts it in both sound and style. Deep Deep Feeling marks a significant moment for the album. Eight minutes of brilliance followed by a B-Side slump, ironically heralded by Slidin’, as the tone and style of the album crashes into that expected drop in quality.
Thankfully McCartney III doesn’t flatline the whole way through. The best album of this trilogy, not because of any unique brilliance, but because it offers songs that are beyond competent. McCartney II rumbled along a bed of mediocrity, its solid nature making for a comfortable but completely forgettable listen. This latest release feels far more engaged and structured than those previous handmade albums. Find My Way and Pretty Boys is a solid pairing for the album, two of the best tracks one after another. Spreading that quality across the rest of the album was, apparently, too great a challenge for a man bold enough to write and release Temporary Secretary.
Nice enough. McCartney III isn’t charting new territory or aiming for the stars. At best, it’ll offer less than an hour of fun from one of the best artists working today. To assume anything the man makes is gold, though, is a fickle approach to this somewhat solid album. Moments of great joy found within, but not without its dud moments. Undeniably impressive as a musical achievement, a remarkable example of how the recording and production of an album can change. McCartney III feels as if McCartney is showing off his multi-talented abilities on just about every instrument featured, and if there’s one man that should be given this rite of passage, it’s him. Strong stuff, and perhaps it’s rude to expect groundbreaking work from a man who has innovated so much in the past.