When asked to describe the work of The Beatles, I find 'genius' and 'eternal' to be my words of choice, though certainly an understatement. The variety brought to the table, and the musical genius of each member provided a perfect mix for what we know to be the most influential group in music history; one that can't be described with adjectives alone.
Post breakup, it was evident that their voices would continue to promote messages of inspiration and optimism through their own perspective and musical style. Paul McCartney's solo work has proven to be a shining example of this, through music released in decades past, and his newest album, Egypt Station. Released September 7th, this marks his first album since New in 2013.
Back in June, McCartney released a double A-side single featuring two tracks off the upcoming album, "Come On To Me" and "I Don't Know". This taste of what was to expect on an LP in a matter of 3 months sent the Beatles fan community into an uproar of excitement and anticipation.
"Come On To Me" serves as an upbeat, rock and roll track, giving us that 'McCartney zest' we've grown to love. Meanwhile, the relaxed, somber feelings of doubt and despair in "I Don't Know"' showcase McCartney's vulnerable side as a songwriter. These two musical stylings are reflected throughout Egypt Station, each expressing their own message and raw emotion.
Egypt Station is intended to be a concept album, one that is centered around a general theme and holds a larger meaning then that of a traditional album. Each song acts as a stop at a different 'station', evoking different feelings along the way.
In a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, McCartney stated that going about the means of a traditional pop album wasn't the path he planned on going down. Rather then piece together an album comprised of various singles, Egypt Station has its own opening and ending sequence, with a melodious journey in between.
'Opening Station' welcomes us aboard by combining background noises from a crowded train station with an angelic prelude transitioning us into our first two stops, 'I Don't Know' and 'Come Onto Me'. Something that bares similarity to the beginning sounds of Sgt. Pepper; an introduction leading us into our excursion alongside McCartney.
Tracks such as 'Happy With You' and 'Confidante' bring the same, mellow-acoustic vibe, but hold completely different meanings. While one praises the good, little aspects in life such as "reunited friends loving one another" and "throwing a pocketful of coins into the Trevi fountain", the other explores the heartbreak that stems from losing a lover whom a vast amount of trust was given towards.
'Hand In Hand' exudes the same slow sound, with the meaning from 'Confidante' flipped. Yearning for love and a life together from an individual is fervently expressed throughout: "Wanna give you my heart, wanna tell you my story...hand in hand, walking through life, and making our plans".
The hard rock style behind 'Caesar Rock' and 'Who Cares' completely shift gears from the relaxed theme discussed thus far. For those affected by harmful forms of scrutiny, 'Who Cares' impels one to think positively: "Who cares what the idiots say, who cares what the idiots do…'cause you're worth much more, of that you can be sure".
Nearly a month after the album's first two singles were released, a third was put out: 'Fuh You'. Complaints that the sound was too modern for McCartney arose (possibly due to a different producer), with several listeners stating that he was putting too much emphasis on trying to get a #1 hit and follow the modern style of today's pop charts.
As music evolves over time, so does an artist's way of creating it. 'Fuh You' incorporates many modern elements from today's top hits, and it's clear to see McCartney has picked on them and wanted to blend that style into his own for the album. Fans have different types of sounds they'll prefer over others when listening to music, and for many, this track may not be their cup of tea. Only an artist has control over what they create; not everything appeals to everyone.
'People Want Peace' tones it back to a softer rock sound; a simple cry for peace and unity around the world. 'Back In Brazil' introduces a bossa nova styled song with a catchy tune and lyrics to follow, while 'Do It Now' expresses a sorrowful tone, similar to 'Here, There, and Everywhere' off The Beatles' 'Revolver' album. We are reminded not to take any part of life for granted; don't leave anything unsaid, for you never know what tomorrow may bring.
'Dominoes' captures the theme of reminiscence, indicated in the opening lines: "In time we'll know, it's all a show/It's been a blast/As time goes by, we'll laugh and cry/It's in the past." A reference to McCartney's decade spent in The Beatles could be the main idea; a sentiment of joy, while looking towards the future as a solo musician.
"And like the dominoes who're falling into place, Ignoring everything in their way", The Beatles knew their right decision, after several years together, was to split off and create voices unique to themselves. No matter the public opinion, they knew what was best for each other.
A song which Rolling Stone calls anti-Trump, 'Despite Repeated Warnings' inflicts the feeling of panic and concern for the future of our world. With the 'captain' driving our ship, sailing into disaster, we're left questioning how to go about changing the route ourselves to make for a better outcome.
The behavior changes from solemn feelings of defeat and uncertainty ("What can we do?") to a confident, assertive attitude: "How can we stop him, grab the keys and lock him up...yes, we can do it". Perhaps the most enlightening moment of the album; a political outcry, recognition of the ugly truth our world is living in and how we the people must band together to change our fate.
After a 13 track voyage, we arrive full circle at 'Station II', a reprise of 'Opening Station'. Hopping off the train, faint sounds of a rock performance grow louder as though our curiosity is pulling us towards a final, surprising number. With that, the trio of 'Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link' takes us home, fading out with the sounds of heavy, head-banging rock.
Though many tracks bare resemblance to one another instrumentally, each one differs lyrically. Doubt, peace, and nostalgia are only few of the many feelings evoked from the album, allowing listeners to find their own connection through song, whatever mindset and emotions may be festering.
McCartney has been the kind of artist that can get you to rock out with him and let loose, but also have you sit down with him for a heart to heart conversation through song. The power to do just this is extraordinary, and any artist who bears this power is prone to having the world of music in the palm of their hand. Bravo, Sir Paul. You've done it again!