McCartney deserves kudos for not choosing obvious songs that have been covered umpteen times, although he does tackle well-known tracks such as “The Glory of Love,” “Always,” and “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” His fragile vocals on “The Glory of Love” add an emotional punch to lines such as “You've got to give a little, take a little/ And let your poor heart break a little.” This is a man who has lived these words, and he sings them like he means every syllable. However, McCartney sometimes lacks the swagger and power necessary on songs like “Get Yourself Another Fool,” which needs an experienced pop singer like Bennett to convincingly deliver lines like “You used me for a tool/ Go get yourself another fool.” Bennett's famous version of the kiss-off track “I Wanna Be Around” exemplifies how to dramatically interpret lyrics with one's voice.
In addition to the standards, McCartney penned two original songs for the album: “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts,” which features Wonder on harmonica. Both tracks fit in with the romantic, sentimental tone of Kisses on the Bottom, although neither are as memorable as the other tunes. “Only Our Hearts” more successfully imitates the retro tone of the other tracks, wisely allowing McCartney to sing in a lower, obviously more comfortable register. Lyrics such as “If only my love was here/ I'd be taking the time to feel it/ Washing over my body and soul” echo the nostalgic pitch of the rest of the album. Wonder's always-incredible harmonica playing further enhances the wistful quality of the lyrics.
Does McCartney's singing compare to legendary crooners Bennett, Frank Sinatra, or Nat King Cole? No, but perhaps that's not the point of Kisses on the Bottom. Instead, it serves as McCartney's love letter to the great songwriters who influenced his own work, and a fond look back at the songs his own father used to perform at parties. Viewed through that lens, Kisses on the Bottom is a pleasant listen, and shows how McCartney enjoys experimenting with different genres.