Flowers in the Dirt

Paul McCartney

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Flowers in the Dirt Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Paul McCartney must not only have been conscious of his slipping commercial fortunes, he must have realized that his records hadn't been treated seriously for years, so he decided to make a full-fledged comeback effort with Flowers in the Dirt. His most significant move was to write a series of songs with Elvis Costello, some of which appeared on Costello's own Spike and many of which surfaced here. These may not be epochal songs, the way many wished them to be, but McCartney and Costello turn out to be successful collaborators, spurring each other toward interesting work. And, in McCartney's case, that carried over to the album as a whole, as he aimed for more ambitious lyrics, themes, sounds, and productions for Flowers in the Dirt. This didn't necessarily result in a more successful album than its predecessors, but it had more heart, ambition, and nerve, which was certainly welcome. And the moments that did work were pretty terrific. Many of these were McCartney/McManus collaborations, from the moderate hit "My Brave Face" to the duet "You Want Her Too" and "That Day Is Done," but McCartney also demonstrates considerable muscle on his own, from the domestic journal "We Got Married" to the lovely "This One." This increased ambition also means McCartney meanders a bit, writing songs that are more notable for what they try to achieve than what they do, and at times the production is too fussy and inextricably tied to its time, but as a self-styled comeback affair, Flowers in the Dirt works very well.

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