Paul's New Home, New Album

After a 45-year association with EMI, Paul McCartney starts fresh this week with "Memory Almost Full." It's the first release on Hear Music, the new label formed by Starbucks Entertainment and Concord

After a 45-year association with EMI, Paul McCartney starts fresh this week with "Memory Almost Full." It's the first release on Hear Music, the new label formed by Starbucks Entertainment and Concord Music Group. McCartney played most of the instruments on the David Kahne-produced project, conjuring a loose vibe reminiscent of his 1989 solo album "Flowers in the Dirt."

So why Starbucks? The allure of trying something different, according to the ex-Beatle. "About a year ago, I was talking to [Kahne]. We were in the throes of the excitement of making an album and loving it," McCartney recalls. "I said, 'The only thing is, I'm kind of dreading releasing it.' Because there comes this sort of wall you hit -- a bit like the marathon -- and everyone sits around in suits and rather glumly listens to it, then gives you a half-smile and says, 'Nice album.' And you go, 'Oh, thank you.' Somehow it doesn't capture the spirit you had when you were making it."

McCartney started recording "Memory" as long ago as October 2003, but put the project on hold to complete 2005's "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard." In North America, the lead song is the upbeat "Ever Present Past." The international emphasis track is the album's opening song, "Dance Tonight," on which McCartney plays his new discovery, the mandolin. He says, "In searching the instrument to try and find chords, which I did with the guitar when I was 14, probably, that freshness was brought back. It stops you getting jaded, and I'm a born enthusiast."

"Ever Present Past" is one of several tracks with an autobiographical, sometimes retrospective lyrical flavor. "It's quite personal," McCartney says, "but that often happens unless you set out to write an 'arm's length' album, which I hardly ever do."