âÄúKisses on the BottomâÄù
Artist: Paul McCartney
Label: Hear Music
Paul McCartneyâÄôs latest release is the musical equivalent of a friendly wink from an elderly neighbor: a well-meaning but anachronistic show of affection. âÄúKisses on the BottomâÄù is a collection of jazzy standards with two originals thrown in.
McCartney hands us this bouquet with the knowing smile of a man who probably has more experience with love than any non-former Beatle ever will. And it shows âÄî he croons with care, gently and calmly.
The highlight of this album is McCartneyâÄôs cover of âÄúItâÄôs Only a Paper Moon.âÄù In his hands, the Gershwin favorite is equal parts earnest and whimsical. Throughout the entirety of his 15th solo studio album, McCartneyâÄôs voice is a cup of English tea âÄî simple and warm, with no need for fancy flourish.
Eric Clapton is the tea-time biscuit, joining McCartney for some succinct strumming on âÄúGet Yourself Another FoolâÄù and one of the two original creations, âÄúMy Valentine.âÄù Stevie Wonder and Diana Krall make appearances as well.
The problem with âÄúKissesâÄù is that it feels effortless to the point of self-indulgent. ItâÄôs the ultimate cake job âÄî McCartney sings his favorite songs, the ones he grew up listening to. He must know how good he sounds singing these tunes, and he must know thereâÄôs a market for it. ThereâÄôs no way McCartney could have lost out on this one, because he didnâÄôt take any risks.
In spite of the flagrant show of stagnant musicality, McCartney shows us how young-at-heart he is, over and over again. His optimism shines through each cover. On âÄúThe Glory of Love,âÄù he sings, âÄúWeâÄôve got the world / and all its charms / But when the world is through with us / weâÄôve got each otherâÄôs arms.âÄù
2 out of 4 stars
Artist: Silver Swans
Label: Twentyseven Records
If youâÄôre looking for a good Lana Del Rey cover, skip the YouTube amateurs and look up Silver SwansâÄô rendition of âÄúVideo Games.âÄù Vocalist Ann Yu expels her velvet voice over deejay and producer Jon WatersâÄô sensual drum machining, putting an electro spin on Del ReyâÄôs hit.
The duo, whose name is inspired by the bad guys in the Wonder Woman comics, didnâÄôt include the âÄúVideo GamesâÄù cover on their newest album. But âÄúForeverâÄù is stacked with songs in its same emotional vein: disaffected yet infatuated, morose yet carefree.
Listening to the thudding rhythms and twinkling synth on this album is like listening to the beeping of an alarm clock youâÄôre allowed to ignore. You can go back to your dream land, you can be sad about wanting somebody, and you donâÄôt have to be Wonder Woman.
In spite of its poetic feel, thereâÄôs something missing from âÄúForever.âÄù Sonically, it lacks a smooth flow. Between the reverb and the haze, thereâÄôs no thread tying the songs together. ItâÄôs nothing to worry about if you add the tracks to your music library and hit shuffle. But if youâÄôre into appreciating albums as objects, these misty jams may feel a little disjointed for you.
3 out of 4 stars