Kisses On The Bottom

Paul McCartney - Kisses On The Bottom

OK, first things first. The album title. It's terrible. I'm sure Paul liked the cheekiness of it (pun intended), but he really should have thought better. In theory, it's a line from the album's opener "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter," but here's the thing; I've probably heard a couple of dozen versions of that song, and I've always heard it sung "kisses AT the bottom," so it's not even the right line. But I digress...

I’ll admit that despite being a fan of both McCartney (definitely my favorite Beatle) and what’s known as “The Great American Songbook,” I was only marginally interested in checking this album out when I first heard about it. For the last few years it seems like the CD section of your favorite discount store is littered with albums of aging rockers doing their interpretations of old standards. But my interest level shot up about one hundred percent when I learned that Macca had Diana Krall and her band backing him up on the project. Rather than the kind of milquetoast orchestral schmaltz that Rod Stewart has been releasing for the past decade, McCartney and company turn in an understated and elegant set of overlooked classics. While a handful of the songs do have orchestral arrangements, most of the record is just McCartney singing with Krall’s quartet. A few of the songs are hardly obscure, but he mostly stays away from the obvious choices, which makes the album seem a lot fresher than similar projects from other artists. And it’s a testament to his continued skill as a songwriter that unless you’re looking at the credits, you’d be hard pressed to pick out the two new originals (“My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts”) from the songs that are older than he is (the deluxe edition of the album also includes a new take on “Baby’s Request” from the final Wings’ album, Back To The Egg).

It’s almost surprising that it took Paul so long to make an album like this. From the beginning of his career he’s written songs in this kind of style, so a project like this almost seemed inevitable. But the results were definitely worth the wait. It’s probably the most engaging solo album he’s made since he teamed up with Krall’s husband, one
Declan McManus, for 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt.


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