Paul McCartney’s latest album — his first original work in nearly five years — is an opportunity to board a train for a nostalgic musical journey, chugging along to stops on the peaceful ride to Egypt Station.
Egypt Station is McCartney’s 17th solo studio album and depicts the twists and turns of his life and career. After seeing him visit Abbey Road in July and recreate one of music’s most iconic album covers, it definitely was not surprising when he announced that his concept album was born out of reminiscence.
But could it be enough to satisfy one of popular culture’s strongest, yet oldest (relevant) fan bases? Sure enough, McCartney executes Egypt Station with Beatles-level quality.
“Who Cares” certainly delivers that sentimental rock and roll I craved from McCartney prior to the album’s release. He reaches out to young listeners who may be struggling with being bullied or targeted, allowing the song to resonate for many.
“Come On to Me” is also a clear highlight of the record. McCartney masterly combines familiar rock and roll elements with a striking harmonica and a powerful horn for a brilliantly unique sound. Some of the most surprising yet effective moments of Egypt Station are uncharacteristically sensual, as “Come On to Me” proves.
The sexual innuendos continue on “Fuh You,” as the song’s title suggests. The work’s modern rock sound may seem as out-of-place as the mood upon first listen. The sensual modernity is a quick detour from Egypt Station‘s nostalgic ride. However, it is a clear demonstration of McCartney’s ability to adapt and change with the times. Clearly, that’s how you stay relevant in western popular culture for about 60 years.
McCartney stays true to other parts of his identity as a longtime musical advocate of peace and love. Of course, he relays these messages from the Beatles era to the present, a time when we so desperately need them. “People Want Peace” proves this simply in the title.
As an advocate for harmony, perhaps McCartney is therefore a natural advocate for change. It seems impossible for a modern piece of art to contain no political digs — and Egypt Station is no exception. Lines in “Despite Repeated Warnings” like “grab the keys and lock him up” and “those who shout the loudest (What can we do?)/ May not always be the smartest” seem slightly disruptive and combative. Though these may contrast McCartney’s peaceful persona, they seem necessary given his characteristic honesty.
At 76 years old, McCartney certainly has no need to prove his talents, yet his careful construction and expert workmanship on Egypt Station prove groundbreaking. His voice may have aged, but his songwriting remains genius and timeless. His songs remain raw and reflective.
McCartney may have laid the tracks of Egypt Station out of nostalgia, but he expertly combines modern musical elements and messages to create an enjoyable ride for his longtime fans and newer listeners.