I've been listening to Sir Paul McCartney's newest CD Kisses on the Bottom for a number of hours on repeat. I have to say this at the outset ... It truly is an outstanding piece of music.
The songs are well chosen, heartfelt and beautiful to listen to. They conjure romantic yearnings easily and effortlessly as McCartney delivers up his captivating vocals ... along with Eric Clapton's jazzy guitar riffs, Diana Krall's beautiful piano playing and Stevie Wonder's enchanting harmonica work.
"I talk with my shadow ... I talk with my echo", says a lot with a little ... "My echo, my shadow and me." ... a truly beautiful song.
"The Inch Worm" is very whimsical in its subject matter ... and has what appears to be a children's choir singing softly in the background. A very nice complement to Paul's softly sung story-telling vocals. Clapton's guitar work here sounds almost like he's entertaining children in the round in a hospital setting, or in a private nursery.
Paul wrote "My Valentine" for his new wife Nancy, who he married in 2011. He sang it to her at their wedding. He seems very dedicated in his vocals, as if he's singing it in front of her. Some of the whimsical lyrics include: "I will love her for life." ... and, "She makes me certain I can fly, and so I do".
Clapton plays some nice jazzy chords as an intro to Irving Berlin's classic "Always" ... sung with endearing vocals by McCartney declaring "Now I have found you at last", along with the memorable, "I'll be loving you ... always – with a love that's true ... always". Paul's singing "Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but always" is followed by a delightful guitar solo by Clapton. The accompanying romantic melody is absolutely enchanting.
"Bye Bye Blackbird" is sung with a sorrowful melancholy by McCartney, and is countered by a lighthearted string section, and lilting piano playing. The impeccable rhythm section adds some life to an otherwise very sad story, which Paul sings from deep within himself. The piano solo really swings, as does the rhythmic upright bass accompaniment. Paul's vocals echo out a deeply entertaining melody that ends in an emotional hope for the future.
The very upbeat "My Very Good Friend The Milkman" is an upbeat winner, where Paul is suggesting to his romantic interest "You should marry me". Some swingin' trombone soloing with appropriate driving bass accompaniment, livens up the solo which Paul jumps into with his lead vocals and melodic whistling ... reminiscent of Gene Kelly in "Singing In The Rain". Clapton's short, closing lead guitar solo, ends this piece just right.
"Go Get Yourself Another Fool" is a musical self-realization of a relationship gone wrong. It begins with a bluesy guitar intro by Clapton. Then Paul sings the title lyrics with conviction and purpose, in lines like "Your kind of lovin' broke my poor heart". Clapton adds a jazzy guitar solo, which seems to agree with Paul. These quintessentially mesmerizing guitar riffs, evolve into a bluesy guitar solo of 'regret' played with imagine and good taste.
Paul sings a foot-tapping "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter". His vocals seem to invite the listener to 'sit right down' and write their 'own letter'. The piano solo in this piece, is an upbeat head-nodding winner, which blends well with Paul's enthusiastic vocals, singing that he's going to "make believe the letter came from you".
"Only Our Hearts" features a truly heart-warming harmonica solo by the one and only Stevie Wonder ... an icon on the music scene for decades, since he was billed when a young teenager in the mid '60s as 'Little Stevie Wonder'. Stevie's soulfully inspiring harmonic playing goes well with McCartney's declaration that "only our hearts know how much love is there".
"We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)" is a swingin' little number that speaks volumes about good taste in composition and delivery. Paul's vocals are soulfully inspiring, as are Clapton's rhythmic guitar playing, and the lilting piano accompaniment. Paul's voice is truly a musical instrument in this fine old number, as he excels to his own heavenly musical plateau.
"More I Cannot Wish You", has Paul wishing his love interest the best in finding her "own true love". "Wishing you merry music while you're young ... and wisdom when your hair turns to gray". And, "Your own true love this day". Paul almost seems like he's singing this to his own daughter or other family member.
"The Glory of Love" is a cheerful, romantic song, which Paul sings with vigor. The tasteful bass intro is very welcome, as are the sweet bass lines throughout. Meaningful lyrics like "You've got to win a little ... lose a little, and have the blues a little" are sung with aplomb by McCartney, and are added to by Clapton's insightful guitar leads. The piano melody fills in the gaps to complete a beautiful musical picture.
"It's Only A Paper Moon" is a fun-filled musical trip, with Paul singing "It wouldn't be make-believe, if you believe in me". The violin solo which follows, adds to this thought, as does guitar bass and drums.
"Home (When Shadows Fall)", begins with a very nice string instrumental. Clapton's jazzy chords support McCartney's vocals nicely. His vocals are somehow reminiscent of a young Rudy Valee in the 1920s, with megaphone on hand, singing to sllent-film starlets and rich young girls without a care in the world. Somehow images of the stage production of 'The Boyfriend' I saw years ago at Toronto's Royal Alex, set in the '20s, comes to mind.
"Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" movies along nicely, with Paul singing out to "eliminate the negative" and "latch onto the affirmative" ... ending with "Don't mess with Mr. In-between'". That's good advice any way you look at it.
This CD is a keeper in my books. If I had never heard of Paul McCartney before, I would have thoroughly enjoyed this CD just as much as I have for the past few hours, without the slightest boredom or lack of enthusiasm for the performances by one and all. It's a superb old-fashioned CD.
At times I found myself imagining the late great Jeff Healey, playing along on trumpet, with charismatic solos of his own. It's a shame Jeff did not live long enough to take part in a musical project so enjoyable as this, with Paul. Many years ago he did, in his rock days as a guitarist, with another Beatle, George Harrison singing background vocals and playing rhythm guitar on the Beatles classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".
My first impression of Kisses On The Bottom, had me thinking back to Rod Stewart's rendition of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You", as well as Rod's 'Great American Songbook' releases over the years.
I think Paul McCartney's most recent CD Kisses on the Bottom is up there in that fine category of beautiful old romantic compositions -- that will live forever in their melodies and lyrics, which touch the soul and warm the heart.