2 stars (out of 4)
On his first album since 2007, “Kisses on the Bottom” (Hear Music),
The tunes are classic American songbook fare written by the greats – Frank Loesser, Fats Waller,
Now McCartney's stab at the nostalgia market is framed as a Valentine's Day gift to his new wife, Nancy Shevell, though it otherwise arrives at an odd juncture. The ex-Beatles bassist has been on a late-career roll, releasing a string of albums that rank with his best solo work and playing long, satisfying concerts. In many ways he's been rocking with greater purpose than he has in decades. So this slow-dance with the misty past can't help but feel like a letdown.
In aiming to make an easy-listening mood album, McCartney hired pros who know their way around the lounge: jazz pianist
These songs are meant to swing, but McCartney lets them plod. His take on "Bye Bye Blackbird" is so deliberate it nearly stalls. Many of these standards sound slightly out of his range, and his voice strains even though he's singing at barely-above-a-whisper volume. Things improve when McCartney slips on his top-hat and cane to soft-shoe through Waller's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter."
He sounds most at home on “My Valentine,” one of two originals on the album, and the tune that best suits his vocal range. With