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posted: 10/15/2013 11:30 AM

McCartney stays fresh, familiar on 'New'

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  • "New," the latest release by Paul McCartney

      "New," the latest release by Paul McCartney
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/HEAR MUSIC

 
By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

Paul McCartney, "New" (Hear Music)

For his 16th solo record, and first of original material in six years, Paul McCartney turned to a team of four hot producers to come up with something "New."

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The result is both fresh and comfortably familiar. McCartney, a master of the catchy 3-minute pop song, isn't reinventing himself here as the title may suggest. Rather, he's once again compiling an enjoyable 45 minutes or so of toe-tapping pop songs that are sure to please his longtime fans while doing little to break much truly "new" ground.

Just try listening to "On My Way to Work" or "Queenie Eye" without bobbing your head along to the beat. Really, love him or hate him, few can pump out these types of ditties quite like McCartney.

Still, he's no Bob Dylan.

There are flirtations with material with some gravitas here, but it's just that -- a flirtation. McCartney may toy with addressing in song whatever demons he may have, but he certainly doesn't linger.

That said, the mere fact that McCartney is able to come up with something that isn't a simple retread of his past successes must be considered a success -- especially when that would be the easy way out, and one that he's taken many times over his storied career.

Much of the credit for the success of "New" goes to McCartney's four producers -- especially Paul Epworth (Adele) and Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse). The other two, Giles Martin and Ethan Johns, are the sons of famous Beatles producers George Martin and Glyn Johns.

While the multiproducer approach could have resulted in a hot mess, the end result is surprisingly cohesive, modern-sounding and, most of all, fun to listen to.

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