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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

More intimate, but still cautious

September 04, 2005|Steve Hochman

Paul McCartney

"Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" (Capitol)

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BACK in another context, McCartney was known as the cute one, but he also often seemed the cautious one, looking for the comfort zone amid the mania. He's at it again, opening this album (in stores Sept. 13) on a note of caution. "There's a fine line between recklessness and courage," he sings to start "Fine Line," before stressing that "everything is better when you come home to stay."

It serves him well, though. Musically understated and handcrafted (he played nearly every instrument himself, with caring production by Nigel Godrich), this is the intimate McCartney in the vein of his 1970 solo debut or "London Town," and the comfort allowed him to be as unguarded as he's ever been.

Images of a pastoral England of yore abound amid themes of loss, transition and the value of compassion, kindness and new love.

Even Beatles references in the music sit alongside Dickens and tea as part of that idyllic but bygone past.

"Looking through the backyard of my life / Time to sweep the fallen leaves away," he sings in "Promise You Girl" -- a man at home, but working through changes.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent), and have already been released unless noted.

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