Pop & Rock
VOICES Notes and news on Pop & Rock releases
27 DEC 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Paul Simon's latest release, So Beautiful Or So What, his first in five years, is considered by many to be his best since Graceland. Now available as a Collectors Edition, it comes in a deluxe package with a bonus live concert DVD.
Produced by Simon and Phil Ramone, the 10 tracks show Simon in top form. One of pop's most interesting lyricists, Simon writes transcendentalist tone poems that play with the meaning of words and imbue the sights and sounds of everyday life with mystical significance. The third verse from the title cut is vintage Simon: "I'm just a raindrop in a bucket/A coin dropped in a slot/ I am an empty house on Weed Street/ Across the road from the vacant lot/ You know life is what you make of it/ So beautiful or so what."
"Getting Ready For Christmas Day" covers our current national woes, from the economic pinch of the workingman to the Iraq War. Rev. J.M. Gates, the famous early 20th century preacher, is Simon's inspiration and sections of his 1941 sermon of the same name are inserted into the song.
The DVD was recorded in June of 2011 at Webster Hall in NYC. Along with three tracks from the current CD, it includes 2 classics, "Mother And Child Reunion" and "Slip, Slidin' Away." The band is tight and the music grooves with the Afro-Pop rhythms that Simon played a huge part in introducing to American audiences. In this age of auto-tune and studio magic, Simon's impeccable performance highlights in contrast the mastery of his art. There's no loss in technique in either his voice or guitar. On the contrary, his craftsmanship as a writer and performer continues to evolve.
With liner notes written by an admiring Elvis Costello, this fabulous offering is a must-have for Simon fans or anyone interested in the singer/songwriter's art. One decade into the 21st century, Simon continues his tenure as America's moral conscious, a post he's held for the last 50 years.