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Album Review: Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What

3 min read

Singer/songwriter and music legend Paul Simon’s career started back in the early sixties, rising to international fame as one half of American folk/rock duo Simon and Garfunkle. As part of the partnership Simon was garnished with several Grammy awards and in 1990 was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame for the bands acheivements.

PaulSimonSoBeautifulSimon has since gone on to establish himself as one of the greatest songwriters in American music history. Seperating himself from the duo to concentrate on a solo career he put his Simon and Garfunkle hits which included Mrs Robinson, Sound of Silence and the iconic Bridge Over Troubled Water to one side and went on to create his own solo catalogue of impressive, era defying recordings.

1995’s Graceland was without doubt the record that propelled Simon’s solo career to new heights and was an accomplishment that guaranteed him a place within music’s most elite. You Can Call Me Al came from that album and has gone on to become one of Simon’s most recognizable solo hits, particularly its video which featured American funny man Chevy Chase.

In his lengthy career which has spanned over five decades Simon has churned out an incredible number of records as a solo artist as well as during his Simon and Garfunkle years and has been an inspiration of many of today’s rising stars.

2011 now sees Simon well fastened to top form as he releases his twelfth record and, at an elderly age of 69, continues to deliver and show the youngsters of today’s music scene just how music should be made.

So Beautiful Or So What is a light affair that sits gently within Simon’s extensive catalogue. It’s also a very spiritual record with songs like Love Is Eternal Sacred Light and The Afterlife adopting Simon’s religious upbringing.

Amulet sees Simon showing off his charismatic guitar playing skills in a short yet beautifully executed instrumental while opening number The Afterlife brings about Simon’s spiritual side as the lyrics depict the process of how things might go in the afterlife.

Getting Ready For Christmas may have a little bit of a premature feeling to is considering we are still six months away from the festive season but the song stands out on the record with its upbeat vibe around an uptempo and almost live, improvised structure. The track, though uptempo, is a sentimental inclusion which samples a 1940’s sermon and pays homage to families of soldiers at war.

Spirituality returns on two more of the collections highlights. Love Is Eternal Sacred Light combines the singers youthful sounding vocals with his gift of songwriting as he sings in the opening and chorus; “Love is eternal sacred light, Free from the shackles of time, Evil is darkness, sight without sight, A demon that feeds on the mind”. The track also includes a brief yet complimenting harmonica solo spot that gives the track that special something before the gorgeously guitar strum Questions For The Angels offers us a delicate addition to the later half of the record.

It wouldn’t be fair to slot Simon so carelessly into being simply a singer/songwriter. For decades he has not only delivered inspiring records that are coated with hope and optimism as well as fun, upbeat records but he has also been a pioneer in world music, notably around his African influences. So Beautiful Or So What is a further addition to Simon’s highly respected and critically acclaimed catalogue and one that truly represents the gift he has given to the music industry.

Buy ‘ Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What’ from Amazon