Sir Paul issues the Mark Ronson-produced first single from a new album called New due Oct. 15
What? Is this really happening? Are we actually intrigued at the prospect of a new Paul McCartney album?
Sir Paul dropped a new single entitled “New” — from an album also called New to be unleashed upon North American shores on Oct. 15 — onto the Internet during the wee hours of Thursday morning and it’s rather good.
“New,” produced by former Amy Winehouse/Lily Allen right-hand man Mark Ronson, is an appealingly sunny, tres-Beatlesque romp in the springy, piano-propelled “Penny Lane” mould. There’s a lot of brass, a dainty Brian Wilson-esque coda and a monster “When we were new / Oooh-whoo-oooo” hook wherein the 71-year-old McCartney hits his high register with remarkable accuracy and lingeringly youthful sweetness without being so vain as to disguise the age-worn raggedness creeping into his pipes.
Considering that McCartney’s last two proper studio albums, 2005’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and 2007’s Memory Almost Full, were decent, adventurous affairs and he’s reportedly conscripted a passel of A-list collaborators besides Ronson — including Kings of Leon’s go-to guy Ethan Johns, Adele producer Paul Epworth and Giles Martin, son of “fifth” Beatle George Martin — to help him with New, this could very well be McCartney’s moment to pull off a full, late-career turnabout in the Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan vein.
For a gentleman of retirement age, McCartney certainly hasn’t slowed down in recent years. Since Memory Almost Full, he’s released a live album, a ballet score, a weirdo electronic album as Fireman with producer Youth and last year’s standards album, Kisses on the Bottom. He also managed to convene a reunion of the surviving members of Nirvana (dubbed “Sirvana”) as an encore to his show in Seattle last month. That performance featured a new tune called “Cut Me Some Slack,” which might or might not feature in New’s as-yet-unspecified track listing.
Johns, son of famed ’60s producer Glyn Johns, enthused about McCartney’s willingness to experiment in the studio during a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
“I don’t think he ever said ‘No,’ which is kind of the mark of who he is as an artist, really,” said Johns, who wound up laying down four tracks with McCartney. “He’s always up for trying something new.”
McCartney himself told BBC Radio 2 on Thursday morning that “the songs are quite varied” as a result of working with so many different producers.
“I was going to do one song with each producer and see who I got on with best,” he said, “but I got on with all of them.”
“New,” the single, is currently available via iTunes.