It’s hard to imagine, with all the stuff Paul McCartney’s been through in the past ten years – and I trust that I don’t have to elaborate on that – that he could turn out a cheerful classic album like this. It’s also his first U.S. release published by someone other than Capitol Records, the Beatles’ home label Stateside since the beginning; this one was released by a new label started up by, of all people, Starbucks. Yes, the coffee chain. But don’t let any of the above distract you from the fact that this is Sir Paul’s best offering in ten years.

The first three songs, “Dance Tonight”, “Ever Present Past” and “Your Sunshine”, are a triple-threat reminded of why the man’s considered one of the finest pop songsmiths on the planet, even four decades after most of his lifelong listeners first made his acquaintance. They’re classic specimens of McCarthy’s musical craftsmanship, and they’re just so cheerful that it’s impossible not to crack a smile. “Mister Bellamy” and “Vintage Clothes” also fall into this category, despite the former feeling just a little bit like a follow-up to “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey” – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

He also proves that he’s still fully capable of rocking out on numbers like “Only Mama Knows” and “That Was Me”, which have both quickly become a couple of my McCartney favorites. “Only Mama Knows” starts out with a string section, but after that brief intro, becomes pure rock ‘n’ roll, while “That Was Me” is an almost obligatory humorous travelogue of McCartney’s past, from his childhood to a little gig in a place called the Cavern and beyond.

Not everything is sunshine on Memory Almost Full, either; things slow down and become more introspective with “You Tell Me” and “End Of The End”. In “End Of The End”, McCartney basically lays down how he’d like to be remembered when he’s gone, a sobering thought to be sure, but it’s also a song that’s virtually destined to be played over his own obituary. There are also just a couple of hints of bitterness at recent events in his life, and the media’s attention to them: he sings “I’m not coming down / no matter what you say / I like it up here anyway” on the seemingly cheerful “Mister Bellamy”. ‘Nuff said.

4 out of 4What makes the whole endeavour that much more impressive is that McCartney has joined the ranks of the musical hermit crabs with Memory Almost Full. With the exception of any overdubbed orchestral sweeteners, the ex-Beatle literally plays and sings everything himself. You’d have to figure that if anyone in the world would be able to pull something like that off, Paul McCartney would be it. The result is his best album in about ten years – it’s pure Paul, and it’s intensely admirable both for the great music and the pure class of the guy making it. A simply outstanding album.

Order this CD

  1. Dance Tonight (2:52)
  2. Ever Present Past (2:54)
  3. See Your Sunshine (3:17)
  4. Only Mama Knows (4:17)
  5. You Tell Me (3:15)
  6. Mister Bellamy (3:39)
  7. Gratitude (3:17)
  8. Vintage Clothes (2:22)
  9. That Was Me (2:38)
  10. Feet In The Clouds (3:24)
  11. House Of Wax (4:59)
  12. End Of The End (2:51)
  13. Nod Your Head (1:55)

Released by: Hear Music
Release date: 2007
Total running time: 41:40