I had heard the music from James McCartneyâ€™s first release, an EP titled â€œAvailable Light.â€ This CD has all of the releases from that EP, as well as three additional tracks. In addition, there is a second CD, titled â€œClose at Hand,â€ which also includes previously released songs and additional tracks. The combination of the two CDâ€™s is called â€œJames McCartney-The Complete EP Collection.â€
The opener is â€œAngel,â€ a mid-paced rocker with a nice lead-in guitar and wind instruments. James sings at a higher pitch than his normal voice (mainly in the chorus), and, occasionally, with great passion. He describes the song as â€œtrying to write about when I will first meet my true love.â€ The conclusion has a McCartney, Paul that is, like finish.
â€œGlistenâ€ is about the hope for love. It opens with a guitar and wind instruments. A slower middle portion has underlying instruments and more vocal depth. Toward the end, a fading guitar is accompanied by a ladyâ€™s voice singing, apparently Divya Kasturi, the only female voice listed in the credits.
â€œMy Friendâ€ starts simply with a lone guitar, and picks up the pace as the song progresses further. There is significant vocal repetition, again reminding me of his father, and several pace changes. A sharp guitar completes the song.
â€œDanielâ€ also starts slowly, building with bass, drums and, then, lead guitar. There are minimal lyrics, only nine lines, but the song builds to high vamped singing from James.
Perhaps my favorite from this CD, and the first song not written by James, is Neil Youngâ€™s â€œOld Man.â€ While not only sung in great style, I had to wonder why James chose this song, as the lyrics made me think he was singing to his father. He was, literally, in fact, as Paul and David Kahne co-produced the music. The â€œnewâ€ version of â€œOld Manâ€ opens and ends with a psychedelic effect, and a fadeout echo of the last words of the song. Jamesâ€™ vocal range is the most powerful of any song on the CD.
The last three songs are designated as bonus tracks. First is â€œNY Times,â€ basically a running commentary on life in New York City, from the blue skies and flowing magic to the homeless, dirty traders and acid rain. Personally, this song reminded me of John Lennon, and how easily he could have written a similar tune, since he spent nearly the last decade of his life in New York City. The song ends with a Lennon flavor; the sound of a radio and voices, and then a concluding brass finish.
For Paul McCartney fans, â€œI Love You Dadâ€ will only deepen your dedication to the worldâ€™s most successful singer/songwriter (I recommend a book about him-see betterthanlennon.com). The somewhat simple song is led by a mandolin and again has repetitive lyrics. James opening vocals in the song sound a bit like Paulâ€™s former songwriting collaborator. Overall, it is a warm and loving tribute to Jamesâ€™ Dad.
Switching gears dramatically, the finale â€œMoonstarâ€ has the feel of a late 50â€™s-early 60â€™s song with an Elvis Presley influence. Fast-paced, especially at the finish, the lyrics focus on two people trying to change either otherâ€™s minds about loving each other. There is also an effective midpoint guitar solo.
Is this Paul McCartney Jr.? No, and it does not need to be. James may not have his Dadâ€™s vocal skills, yet, but his songs are well written with significant variety. I look forward to hearing more from him. FYI-James will appear on The David Letterman show on January 30th.
The band, which re-recorded some of the songs, included two members ofÂ the band The Dead 60â€™s-Charlie Turner on bass and Bryan Johnson on drums. Steve Bayley played guitar and keyboards, and there were also appearances from Shawn Pelton on drums, Gil Goldstein on accordion, and Steven Isserlis on cello. The multi-talented McCartney played piano, electric and acoustic guitar, bass and mandolin.