Paul McCartney: Driving Rain

Paul McCartney: Driving Rain

On 1999's Run Devil Run, a collection of early rock covers with a few stylistically appropriate originals thrown in for good measure, Paul McCartney touched base with the music that first inspired him. The sound suited him so well that it's almost a shame he couldn't have stuck with it longer. But, for better or worse, McCartney's post-Beatles career has always been marked by a refusal to stay in the past too long. The new Driving Rain doesn't really deliver on the somewhat portentous promise of its cover art's grainy digital imagery until the final songs, the tampura-drenched "Riding Into Jaipur" and the sloggish 10-minute epic "Rinse The Raindrops," both of which find McCartney threatening to give ambition a bad name. Until then, it's more or less business as usual, with a few highlights balancing a fair amount of filler. The best moments come from the silly love songs at which McCartney excels, most of which take on an added poignancy given the recent developments in his life. The restrained sadness of the album-opening "Lonely Road"—a song that's difficult to read as anything but the first of several comments on Linda McCartney's death and Paul's subsequent engagement to new love Heather Mills—only makes it more powerful. So does the stately tone of "From A Lover To A Friend" and the gentle poppiness of the title track, a chugging number that sounds like a lost Wings hit. As for the rest, McCartney followers have learned to settle for far less. As a whole, Driving Rain sounds less like a major statement than a pretty postcard from an old friend.

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