Paul McCartney's 'Kisses on the Bottom': What the Critics are Saying

7:13 PM PST 02/06/2012 by THR Staff
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Reviews are mixed of the former Beatle’s first standards album, which is due out on Feb. 7 via Hear Music.

Paul McCartney’s Kisses from the Bottom, his first solo album since 2007’s Memory Almost Full, debuts on Tuesday, Feb. 7 via Hear Music. The 14-track album is comprised almost entirely of covers of the American artists that helped shape McCartney as a musician.

The album also includes two McCartney-penned original tracks, titled “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts.” On the deluxe editions, fans will enjoy two extra songs – McCartney’s “Baby’s Request” and Frank Sinatra’s “My One and Only Love.”

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The former Beatle worked on the standards album with jazz artists Diana Krall and John Clayton, with Tommy LiPuma in the producer’s chair. Reviews are mixed on the Brit’s latest endeavor, with many praising the musical accompaniment and obvious talent he possesses, but few bowled over by the project.

Read below to see what the critics are saying about McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom.

New York Times: “The music on Paul McCartney’s first ‘standards’ album, Kisses on the Bottom, floats over you like a light mist on a cool spring morning in an English garden as the sun glints through the haze. You want to inhale the fresh air, taste the fragrance of buds blooming, as the sky clears to a serene deep blue. Mr. McCartney exudes the unassuming charm of a country gentleman in a good mood, sitting on the grass and whistling to himself. Kisses on the Bottom breaks the mold of the typical standards album by a rock performer. Far from a solemn, self-conscious act of reclamation, it is more a jaunty tip of the hat to the pop music of his parents’ generation.”

Los Angeles Times: “The record (the title is a line from the opening track, “I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”) features songs from the 1930s and 1940s by some of America's great early 20th century songwriters. It comes dangerously close to breaching the property-line that early retiree Rod Stewart has drawn in his wildly successful, and treacly, series of “Great American Songbook” titles, though McCartney's song choices are less predictable… It is a more satisfying listen if treated as a footnote in McCartney's repertoire, in the best sense of the term: a record to cite when discussing the influences of some of the writer's more Songbook-referential ditties of his own, like ‘Martha My Dear,’ ‘Honey Pie’ and that part in ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ about ‘a cup of tea and butter pie.’”

NME: “Nope, this sure as hell ain’t one for the Skrillex enthusiast in your life nor, for that matter, anyone under 50. But, if anyone on earth has earned the right to make the dreaded Stuff I Loved When I Was Little covers album, it’s Paul McCartney.”

The Guardian: “In a similar tradition to 1999's Run Devil Run album of rock'n'roll standards, it's an album of shamelessly retrospective songs he first heard his father play on the piano. And yet, it's beautifully done, with palpable affection for the songs, airy whimsy and perhaps a hint of mischief.”

ContactMusic: “He's obviously got the phone numbers of some pretty stellar session musicians in his little black book, so it's a shame that Paul McCartney seemingly forgot to take Paul McCartney into the studio with him. These versions could well have benefitted from a little more of his own personality, his own accent, his own roots. Instead, what you have is a collection of lightweight interpretations that has Macca sounding at times, almost identical to Michael Bublé, or Jamie Cullum.”

Chicago Tribue: “Now McCartney’s stab at the nostalgia market is framed as a Valentine’s Day gift to his new wife, Nancy Shevell, though it otherwise arrives at an odd juncture. The ex-Beatles bassist has been on a late-career roll, releasing a string of albums that rank with his best solo work and playing long, satisfying concerts. In many ways he’s been rocking with greater purpose than he has in decades. So this slow-dance with the misty past can’t help but feel like a letdown.”

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