Paul McCartney is decades deep into his solo career, and with time he has carefully crafted his sound and a sort of formula to his releases. In his latest release, “McCartney III,” he follows the path forged by “McCartney” and “McCartney II” with an album written, recorded and played entirely on his own and released in the first year of a new decade.
“McCartney III” is solemn, at times profound, existential and simplistic all at once. The 11-song album is a wonderful deep dive into McCartney’s brain, lyrically and musically. The album, recorded in the spring and released in December, is born out of the solitude and lockdown that came with 2020. Following the theme of the first two albums, “McCartney III” is slightly weird and very experimental.
Kicking off the strange journey is “Long Tailed Winter Bird,” a song that is just over five minutes in length with variations of just one lyric — “Do you, do-do, do you miss me?” — which is repeated 16 times throughout the song. Though it certainly isn’t a lyrical masterpiece, the instrumentation is incredible.
It begins with a quick, tantalizing acoustic guitar melody that then explodes into over a minute of pure instrumentation that climbs with anticipation before McCartney starts singing. It is perfectly strange and experimental, but it certainly isn’t a piece that caters to all listeners.
“Find My Way” genuinely feels as if it were written to describe the year 2020. The lyric “You never used to be afraid of days like these / But now you’re overwhelmed by your anxieties” captures the feelings of the new wave of fears that have come as a result of the unprecedented events of last year. The song strays from the experimental mentality of the rest of the album, but it is simplistic and comforting and serves as a sort of modern rock love song.
While much of this album strays far from McCartney’s past projects, “Lavatory Lil” is rather reminiscent of The Beatles’s “Abbey Road” with its bluesy and angsty undertones. It kicks off with a catchy electric guitar rhythm that carries throughout the rest of the song. The lyrics are spiteful, telling the story of a woman who takes advantage of others and leaves them bitter and angry.
Quite possibly the most obscure song of the album is the eight minute wonder that is “Deep Deep Feeling,” which is rather unhinged and odd from start to finish. It is strangely modern with a lot of synthesizer and a mellotron in the instrumentals. The lyrics take the listener on an emotional journey feeling pain, love, joy, loneliness, love and conflict through the eyes of McCartney. He toys with his mentality towards emotions and goes back and forth between loving them and wishing they’d go away.
“The Kiss of Venus” is inspired by a book on astronomy that was gifted to McCartney; some of its lyrics were actually pulled from the book, including the title of the song itself. It is a peculiar love song that plays on an astronomy and nature theme, but still tells the story of two people in love, blending the concepts together. The lyric “Now moving slowly, we circle through the square / Two passing planets in the sweet, sweet summer air” is particularly indicative of the song’s theme.
Overall, the album is exactly what would be expected of a McCartney solo homemade album — experimental, odd, emotional and full of intricately crafted instrumentation. It is an unpolished and imperfect version of McCartney, showing a true reflection of him as an artist. It is not meant to be his greatest work of art, but more a stream of thoughts and reflections woven into music.