"I'm always loath to say, 'It's a fucking great album, man!'" says Paul McCartney with a laugh. "I try to be modest. But I think you're going to like this one." The star has been laboring for more than a year on his 16th solo studio LP, with help from a dream team of top producers, including Mark Ronson, Adele hitmaker Paul Epworth and Ethan Johns (who has worked with Kings of Leon and Laura Marling). Says McCartney, "It's been a really cool adventure."
He began by getting together with Epworth for some freewheeling sessions. "We just went mad," says McCartney, "throwing ideas at each other."
Next, he joined Johns in London. On their first day together, he recorded a ballad called "Hosannah" to tape using vintage instruments. Recalls Johns, "He walked in with this incredible song, we threw up a couple of microphones, and within four hours we had this great track."
Looking for dance music, McCartney called Ronson, who DJ'd the singer's 2011 wedding to Nancy Shevell. "With Paul, you learn to not ask too many questions," says Ronson. "He came in one day playing some baile funk/moombahton thing, asking, 'How do we get this energy?' Then he played me 'Climax,' by Usher."
McCartney cut more tracks with all three producers, plus Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin) – working everywhere from New York to London's Abbey Road to his home studio in Sussex. After a while, he started to wonder how the eclectic results would fit together. "I thought, 'Uh-oh, it's not a rock album, and it's not an acoustic album,'" McCartney says. "And then I thought back to the Beatles albums: There would be something like 'Why Don't We Do It in the Road?' right next to 'Blackbird,' or 'Something' right next to 'She's So Heavy.' I mean, we really ran the changes! This has turned out a little bit like that. The continuing thing throughout that pulls it all together, I think, is the fact that it's me."