Songwriter

Paul Simon

Sony Legacy, 2011

http://www.paulsimon.com

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/27/2011

Close on the heels of his 70th birthday, Paul Simon has released a personally chosen set of songs spanning his 50+ year career, two discs aptly named Songwriter. Simon has a legacy as one of the finest songwriters of the 20th century, and the time has seen him grow from a folk pioneer to a mercurial, inquisitive student of melody and lyric.

Simon chooses a nice mix of well known and lesser-known material, combining his original recordings with a few covers and alternate versions. The focus here is not to create a greatest hit collection (there plenty of those already), though it does contain many familiar hits from his solo work and the Simon & Garfunkel years.  Disc one covers his career from its beginnings in the ‘60s through his 1986 album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Graceland.

He opens the first disc with one of his most venerable tracks, the iconic “Sound Of Silence,” recorded live in 2011. The spare arrangement is almost spoken word, reducing the familiar hypnotic melody to its barest essentials on a single acoustic guitar. The stripped-down version puts the focus on the brooding lyrics, nicely setting the stage for an exploration of Simon's brilliant musical poetry. If “Sound Of Silence” is his most iconic song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” comes a close second. The version of “Bridge” here features not Simon, but Aretha Franklin backed by Billy Preston doing a fantastic gospel arrangement.  Familiar selections such as “Kodachrome” and “Late In The Evening” are accompanied by some lesser known but essential Simon tracks. The mellow tale of love gone to rust in “Train In The Distance” is especially welcome as is the quirky tale of love and doo-wop music, (and one of the best song titles ever) “Renee And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War”.

Disc two spans his 1990 album Rhythm Of The Saints to the present, including his 2011 studio release “So Beautiful, Or So What.” The more enigmatic of the two discs, many of the songs here traveled under the radar. His original musical play “The Capeman” provide two tracks that fall a bit flat performed by Simon. I would have liked to hear the ensemble recordings of these personally. His under appreciated 2005 release “Surprise” provided my favorite track on disc two, the bubbly “Look At That.” Disc two is nicely bookended with Latin flavored tracks from “Rhythm Of The Saints,” closing with the title track from his latest release. “So Beautiful” is an amazing return to the spotlight for Simon, and it shows that his turn of phrase has not lost a bit of it's impact. His words are still powerful and personal. His skill as a composer and arranger are as solid as ever. Songwriter is a thoroughly enjoyable trip through Simon's timeline.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


Comments

I've been listening to Tom Waits' "Bad as Me" for the last couple days, when I clicked on Daily Vault I was sure you'd have a Review of it posted, instead I see this album, that has been been released in different packages many times!
Sorry you were disappointed, but your comment about this being a re-release is pure 100% BS. If we're not covering an artist you like just drop a line to our Editor and he'll pass it along. Tom is amazing and I'm sure he'll make it into the Vault before long.
Alright! Alright! I looked a little closer, went to another site and listened to some samples, it sounds like Live recordings of his past recordings, but it still sounded like a re-hash to me, and there is a brand new album out now by this great Artist and Performer, and nobody on the DV covers it! and and I guess I was just a little disappointed!
Sometimes you have to exercise a little patience with us. My copy of "Bad As Me" is on it's way. Stay tuned!








© 2011 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.