Understanding Paul McCartney’s “Memory Almost Full”

Being a Beatles fan, I read the hype and early reviews of Paul McCartney’s new album, “Memory Almost Full,” with a great deal of hope that he had followed “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” with another solid effort. I have listened several times to “Memory Almost Full” and I still don’t know what to think.

It is a good album, but I am not buying into the rave reviews stating this is his best solo album. I think “Chaos…” was. As many reviews have pointed out, there is a Wings vibe and a Beatles vibe to certain tracks. I also get a strong “Off the Ground” and a bit of a “Flaming Pie” vibe from it. One thing I noticed is the instrument of his that is showing age is his voice. It is understandable. He is now 65. His voice is propped up with effects in places more so than in past efforts. Where before the effects applied to his voice augmented the songs, on this album they seem to try to strengthen his voice or to mask it.

The quality of his writing is strong. It is yet another recent McCartney album that should drive listeners to take a look at the lyrics. Which is odd because the CD booklet directs one to go to his website for the album’s complete lyrics. The printed lyrics on the booklet fade out. Perhaps it fits the memory motif. Lyrically he ranges from playfulness to contemplation. Musically he rocks out, slows it for the ballads, and drops into a rockabilly. It showcases his ability to jump into any musical style. And it shows that in the throes of the recent events of his personal life, music is where he still finds his freedom and joy… and his expression.

As much as I would like to rave about this album, I cannot. I rate this album somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars out of five. Perhaps a few more listens, and I have listened to it several times already, will provide me a better understanding of the album. And yet perhaps it is the jumble of Paul’s emotions brought on by his recent domestic upheaval that gives this album several angles of view.

And maybe all the album is is a collection of memories… not quite complete and not quite “the end of the end.”

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