This is a guest article by author John Cherry. He is the author of two books, Better Than Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Solo Music Career 1970-2010 he can be found at Betterthanlennon.com – Simon

The second CD of the James McCartney “Complete EP Collection” is titled “Close at Hand,” and it is as impressive as the first CD.

It opens with “I Only Want to be Alone,” a mid-paced rocker led by drums and guitar. There is splendid guitar work, and the lyrics make you wonder if they are about a disappointing end to a personal relationship. For his Dad’s fans, you might think this song would nicely on his “Flaming Pie” CD, and I can think of two songs that it could easily replace and enhance the release.

“Wings of a Lightest Weight” opens with a short guitar solo portion, and leads to a story of the joy of discovering someone that has already been in your life for many years. Gil Goldstein provides a nice wind arrangement to the song that finishes with a short solo guitar piece.

“The Sound of My Voice” starts with a guitar that builds to a strong lead. The lyrics are limited, but focus on the uncertainty of a relationship. There are various pace changes and James returns to singing in a higher pitch. The conclusion (and briefly in the beginning) has sounds of a toy piano, followed by the same earlier guitar lead.

“Else and Else But Dead” highlights vocal harmonies, and is led by the guitar and drums. The song’s pace picks up by the spark of a guitar solo. A state of relationship confusion exists in the lyrics. The guitar that led the song also completes it, along with echo effects.

“Jesus is My Friend” is done at a slower pace, initially, and features an arrangement by co-producer David Kahne. Lyrically, there seems to be a religious tug of war between wanting to have a strong belief in Jesus, but having been disappointed by him in the past. James exhibits passionate vocals and ends with song with a statement of “I’m not sure who you really are.”

“Fallen Angel” has a nice piano lead-in, and features echoing vocals. A story of a rescue from the darker side of life, there are also more emotional vocals. Steven Isserlis lends an effectual cello piece to the song. In a possible wink to his father, there is a false ending, and then a piano finish.

“Spirit Guides” lifts the CD’s tempo with the feel of a “Lady Madonna” like rocker, after a slow entry. A repetitive mantra of the title is found in the chorus. There is also a lively guitar solo in the song led mostly by the piano.

As with the first CD, the second ends with James doing a cover song. This time it is from Paul’s old friend, the late, great Carl Perkins. Like in “Old Man” from CD #1, James does good work on “Your True Love,” a rockabilly tune with a notable guitar solo.

The performers on the CD are much the same as those from the first, minus Bryan Johnson on the drums and the vocals of Divya Kasturi, and adding the contribution from David Kahne, who again shared producer duties with James’ Dad.

Rather than attempting to copy his great father, James McCartney has carved out his own style, and I look forward to hearing more of it. Reminder-Be sure to watch James perform on The David Letterman Show on January 30th.

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