The Music Box's #2 album for 2001
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
Written by John Metzger
Paul McCartney will never get a break, and his music will be forever compared to The Beatles. Try as he might, he just can't get away from his former group. For sure, McCartney often brings it on himself by consistently including on each of his albums a song or two that sounds like The Beatles but clearly isn't. How could it? The Beatles were more than just Paul. There was also John, George, and Ringo. Without the other three, McCartney sometimes comes off as Paul trying to be The Beatles, forcing an otherwise perfectly good song into a contrived mold. However it is Paul McCartney we're talking about, and given his past, given his history — surely he can be forgiven.
There are moments on his latest release Driving Rain — most notably on the melancholic ballad From a Lover to a Friend — when McCartney does move perilously close to falling off this precipice once again. But where in the past he might have leapt into this sterile abyss, this time he delves deep into an emotional payload that honors his late wife Linda as well as his new love Heather. Consequently, the dual strands of love and loss thread the album with a raw, heartfelt context not really manifested so completely in the former Beatle's music since McCartney.
On his previous effort Run Devil Run, McCartney sought solace in the music of his youth, yielding a collection of cover songs tackled with a fiery fury. That same emotional awakening remains throughout Driving Rain, hiding in everything from the uneasy bite of Lonely Road to the cleansing mantra of Rinse the Raindrops. In between, he poses reflectively on the buoyant Magic, defies his sorrow on the soulful blues of Back in the Sunshine Again, and gets breezily sentimental on I Do.
Better still, it's all done with McCartney's requisite attention to detail: Guitars that gently glide or unnervingly clatter, drums that steadily keep the beat or colorfully paint, keyboards that delicately float or ominously hover, and bass that speaks volumes through its wide-ranging, free-roaming, magnificent arcs. It's a real shame, then, that McCartney saw fit to muck up his carefully crafted ambience by tacking on what surely is his worst song in years. The dismal, simplistic Freedom, which was written after the September 11th tragedy, bears little in common with the remainder of the tracks and would have been better suited as a bonus disc. Then again, perhaps we all can cut McCartney a little slack. After all, in spite of that jingoistic ditty, Driving Rain is a gem that proves that he still has an awful lot left to say.
Driving Rain is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box