Album: Paul McCartney

Driving Rain, EMI
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The Independent Culture

The latest in a steadily lengthening line of fair-to-middling McCartney albums, Driving Rain does at least serve to focus attention on the part played in his work by his muses, with his fiancée Heather assuming the role once played by Linda – though mercifully, not the keyboards once played by her. Jumbled up here are various points on the arc of Paul's emotional passage, from the "Magic" of Paul and Linda's first encounter, along the "Lonely Road" of his bereavement, to his romantic salvation with the girl who "came walking through the door/Like the one that I've been waiting for" ("Driving Rain"), who "Let me love again/Now that you turned out to be/Someone I can trust" ("From A Lover To A Friend"). Macca's openness is touching, but the sometimes slack nature of the material is too often matched by settings that struggle to justify the term "arrangement". Recorded quickly with a posse of LA session musos, many of the songs sacrifice polish for freshness of performance, and though all concerned are undoubtedly good players, able to turn their hand from bluesy jams to cod-country croons and jazz-funk wig-outs, their relative unfamiliarity with the material means they only occasionally stumble across a song's most apposite form. His fiancée, at least, is to be congratulated on spotting the album's best tunewhen McCartney picked it out on piano, and is rewarded by having it named after her; but the best piece here is "Your Loving Flame", another example of McCartney's gift for turning sweet nothings into something much more substantial.