There's one thing that's certain about Paul McCartney's new Egypt Station album, out today, Sept. 7. It's not what you expect. His last album, NEW, was a typical McCartney melody-based album. That's not the case with Egypt Station. He takes a new route musically for him, anyway, on this album journey that goes in many directions. And not all of it is smooth.
The album, which McCartney himself has described as a concept LP, shifts back and forth with various tempos. It starts off with “Outside Station' with sound effects and a choir, then leaps right into the very rockin' “Come On To Me,” which McCartney first performed for the world at Liverpool's Philharmonic Pub. The sexy overtones of the lyrics are almost forgotten in the rollicking melody. The song is one of the highlights of the album.
A distinct change from “Come On To Me,” is “I Don't Know,” a very introspective song that McCartney in interviews has linked to changing moods. “I got crows out my window, dogs out my door. I don't think I can't take anymore. What am I doing wrong? I don't know.” he sings at the beginning of the song. Probably one of the moodiest and tenderest songs he's done in a while. Up next is “Happy With You,” a joyous folk-y type ballad that is likely for his wife Nancy that also tells of how he's transformed himself and how he used to get wasted and stoned, but no longer. “'Cause I'm happy with you. I have lots of good things to do,” he sings.
“Fuh You” is McCartney, who can be devilish at times (remember Kisses on the Bottom?), at it again. There's no question what he means here. But hey, it's cute, especially coming from him.
The album shifts back into gear with another good rocker, “Who Cares,” another McCartney song in which he sends a message. “Who cares what the idiots say? Who cares what the idiots do? Who cares about the pain in your heart? Who cares about you? I do.” It's back to ballads with “Confidante,” which is highlighted by some nice guitar work.
The second half of the album doesn't flow as nicely as the first. The ballad “People Want Peace” sounds out of place in the middle of the album and might have been better ending it. “Dominoes,” another ballad, is one of the better tracks on this side. “Back in Brazil,” though, is very weak and tries, unsuccessfully, to jump all over rhythm-wise. And then there's the jarring chorus of what sounds like “Itchybob.” “Do It Now” is a beautiful ballad that flows smoothly like “Maybe I'm Amazed.” “Do it now while the vision is clear. Do it now while the feeling is here.”
McCartney said in an interview in MOJO that “Despite Repeated Warnings” is the song about President Trump, but also talks indirectly about climate change deniers. “Despite repeated warnings, there's dangers up ahead.” The final track, “Hunt You Down/Naked/CLink,” is almost a jam session with the combination of musical styles.
All in all, Egypt Station, isn't one of McCartney's most accessible. Maybe time will prove us wrong. But for now, it's an adventure. And maybe that's what this trip is all about.