Setting aside the poetry, art, and classical compositions that he's been busy with in recent years, Paul McCartney has gotten back into his rock 'n' roll shoes.
The fit is still right on Driving Rain, a loose, raw, and occasionally raucous set that was recorded in Los Angeles with producer David Kahne and a group of young musicians the former Beatle had never even met before. At 59, McCartney is still singing remarkably well, and there are times here, like during “Lonely Road” and the jamming, 10-minute-plus gem the “Raindrops,” where he roars like he did with The Beatles or on early solo albums like Ram.
The trouble is, that while the performances sizzle, several of the songs are mighty mundane by McCartney standards. The piano ballad lead single “From a Lover to a Friend” is an absolute bore, and others like “She's Given Up Talking” and the positively dreadful “Spinning on an Axis” should have never gotten beyond outtake status.
Thankfully, there are better moments here. The joyous title track, the bluesy “Back in the Sunshine Again,” and notably the Indian-flavored “Riding into Jaipur” show that even at this point in his career, McCartney is still capable of delivering surprises while flirting with different musical directions.
If he hadn't decided to get quite so spontaneous when it came to actually writing these songs, Driving Rain could have been McCartney's best album in ages. It's not, but the upside makes it well worth the listen.