Somewhere behind the screams of thousands of teens, Paul McCartney perfected his abilities as a musician and often, as a songwriter. Somewhere on a lonely basketball court in the Carolinas, Michael Jordan perfected a 19-foot fade-away jumper. Millions of dollars in record and ticket sales later, the kings have returned from their hiatuses to their respective castles.

Paul Wong
Godhead enjoys their new mainstream success by donning makeup.<br><br>Courtesy of EMD/Priority/Posthuman

Driving Rain is McCartney”s first batch of all new material since 1997″s Flaming Pie. In 1999 he released an album of covers (Run Devil Run) and now completes the trifecta with his latest set. It is a trilogy that brims with energy, intensity and creativity, and while Rain may not be the strongest of Macca”s latest three-pack, his integrity doesn”t waver.

Just as Flaming Pie seems like a memorial ex post facto to McCartney”s deceased wife, Driving Rain is often staring straight at the future and simultaneously reflecting escaped moments. “I Do”s” charming lyric “If you only knew/how much you meant to me” show us that McCartney is still more than capable at posing as the poster boy for “silly love songs.” However, it is the song”s truly sobering lyric “Will there be days/for me and you” that remind us that McCartney is still remembering Linda.

Paul”s pop sensibilities have faded about as much as his voice, which when Macca wants it to, can ring just as true as it did with the Fab Four. Paul”s near-Paleolithic vocal chords still ring true as evidenced by his ability to belt out his trademark piercing screams. He unleashes his senior citizen discounted pipes two minutes into “Lonely Road,” a blues-fused tune that hints at the jamming aesthetics that carry much of Driving Rain.

Despite his nearly-overwhelming tendencies to break-out in wank teetering jams at times, McCartney returns to his bread and butter often enough to keep listeners interested. Whether it”s the somewhat Joel influenced ivory-tickling on the sunny “Heather” or the country bounce of “Your Way” (where McCartney is borrowing heavily from his former bandmate”s All Things Must Pass), Paul McCartney returns to pop”s somewhat confused mainstream and hopefully will teach a lesson to some of the young upstarts. After all, he is the master craftsman of pop”s confections.

Grade: B

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