Paul McCartney’s new album, McCartney III Imagined, features remixes and covers of his songs from McCartney III, which was released in 2020. Overall, on McCartney III Imagined there seems to be a greater focus on the music and instrumentation rather than the vocals in the songs. There is also an emphasis on combining different musical styles and sounds throughout the album.
The album opens with “Find My Way” (feat. Beck). This song has a very upbeat, electronic kind of sound. It explores both the lower register and falsetto that make McCartney’s voice distinct, showing off his impressive vocal range and control that has remained even as he grows older. Dominic Fike’s cover of “The Kiss of Venus” has an alternative-rock sound with clear rock influences. In particular, a Beatles-esque sound is present in this song, especially in the guitar as it strums in a bouncy, electric rhythm. There is a heavier focus on vocals in this song compared to others on the album.
But, contrasting this focus on vocals is “Pretty Boys” (feat. Khruangbin). This song has a simple yet funky baseline which is complemented by the other guitar line. “Pretty Boys” has a very summery kind of sound, with less of a focus on vocals and more of an emphasis on experimentation with the instrumentation.
The St. Vincent remix of “Women and Wives” has a jazz-influenced sound. The backing vocals create the effect of an entire chorus singing in the background, with harmonies and echoes reminiscent of a gospel choir. The next remix, “Deep Down” by Blood Orange, has a very chill, experimental sound. There are few lyrics in this song—it is mostly instrumental with brief interjections of words.
“Seize the Day” (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) is one of the most beautiful songs on the album. It has a very similar sound to Bridgers’ own music—slow and somber—and the harmonies of her voice add dynamic layers of sound to the song. The sound of this song takes influences from alternative rock, pop, and indie music, and its light and airy feeling is contrasted with the powerful guitar.
“Slidin” features an intense rock sound with really cool guitar. Its rock sound is similar to that of Josh Homme’s “Lavatory Lil” on the album. Due to its heavy rock sound, “Lavatory Lil” is likely to remind the listener of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Damon Albarn’s remix of “Long Tailed Winter Bird” serves as a kind of interlude on the album, as it primarily features slow instrumentals and repetitive lyrics before segueing into “Lavatory Lil.”
The Anderson .Paak remix of “When Winter Comes” has a very upbeat sound. There is a feeling of positivity and a resounding vibe of optimism that comes from the music. This sense is emphasized in the lyrics, when McCartney sings, “When summеr’s gone, we’ll fly away / And find the sun when winter comes.” There is beauty in the sense that the narrator of the song will try to find warmth and joy with their beloved, even when the world is dark with winter.
The final song on the album, 3D RDN’s remix of “Deep Deep Feeling,” clocks out at nearly 12 minutes. It has a very experimental sound, with vocal effects and an electronic musical influence. This song speaks to the pain of feeling very deep emotions for someone.
Instrumentation is very important throughout the album. Unique and interesting guitar lines are a prominent part of many of the songs, and the vocals on some songs seem to be there just to complement the masterful music of the tracks. This is not to diminish the importance of the vocals that are there, however, as the lyrics and the artists who lend their voices to these songs are key parts of the unique and artful sound of the album.
McCartney III Imagined showcases many different artists and their different musical styles while still paying homage to McCartney’s musical genius. This album proves that his music is still relevant, and can be covered or remixed in ways that give it new life. McCartney III Imagined takes risks in combining many different musical styles, but they form a cohesive look at different interpretations of similar songs and the fluid nature of music. McCartney is by no means obsolete. This album proves that major artists of the past can come together with major artists of the future to create art of the present.
Photo Courtesy of Capitol Records