Something Else! sneak peek: Paul McCartney, "My Valentine" (2011)

Check out the lead single from Paul McCartney’s as-yet-untitled new standards set. “My Valentine,” with a guest appearance by Eric Clapton, is one of the project’s two original compositions.

McCartney’s focus for the album, he says, is offer a glimpse into “the songs which inspired the songs,” standards he grew up listening to as a child. Working with Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and jazz star Diana Krall, McCartney plans to take a journey through classic American compositions that, in some cases, the young Paul first heard his father perform on piano at home. The project is one that McCartney says he’s has been thinking about making for more than 20 years.

[ONE TRACK MIND: Laurence Juber takes over our One Track Mind feature to discuss key songs from his tenure with Paul McCartney and Wings, along with favorite sides from his solo career and Al Stewart projects.]

“In the end it was ‘Look, if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it,’” he says, in pre-release materials. The hope is to pay tribute to “the songs me and John based quite a few of our things on. … When I kind of got into songwriting, I realized how well structured these songs were and I think I took a lot of my lessons from them. I always thought artists like Fred Astaire were very cool. Writers like Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, all of those guys — I just thought the songs were magical. And then, as I got to be a songwriter, I thought ‘it’s beautiful, the way they made those songs.’”

The album was recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, New York and London throughout 2011. It’s set for release by Hear Music/Concord Records on Feb. 7, 2012.

“It was very spontaneous, kind of organic, which then reminded me of the way we’d work with the Beatles,” McCartney said. “We’d bring a song in, kick it around, when we found a way to do it we’d say ‘Okay, let’s do a take now’ and by the time everyone kind of had an idea of what they were doing, we’d learnt the song. So that’s what we did, we did the take live in the studio.”

My Valentine – Paul McCartney by PaulMcCartney

For the first time ever, McCartney performed exclusively in the vocal booth without instruments – no guitar, bass, or piano. That’s led to a vocal performance across the project that’s said to be like no other in his career.

“It was important for me to keep away from the more obvious song choices so, many of the classic standards will be unfamiliar to some people,” McCartney says. “I hope they are in for a pleasant surprise.”

Stevie Wonder takes a guest turn on the forthcoming album’s other original, called “Only Our Hearts.”

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.