Paul Simon: Surprise (Warners)

 |   |  1 min read

Paul Simon: Surprise (Warners)

From the Sounds of Silence through American Tune and beyond, 64-year-old Paul Simon has articulated the fears and hopes of his generation.

Unlike Young on his leaden Living with War, for this new album - in a gagging, sentimental cover - Simon takes musical risks and extends himself. Brian Eno provides the sonic landscapes - loops, electronics, weird bass - and it is mixed by Tchad Blake (Crowded House, Tom Waits).

From the opener How Can You Live in the Northeast? which questions preconceptions and assumptions through Outrageous, which adopts the voices of the impotent middle-class malcontents ("It's outrageous the food they try to serve in public schools") to Wartime Prayers, which questions the holiness of those who would kill in the name of their God, Simon stretches himself and his audience in evocative and allusive lyrics.

The most straightforward tracks show Simon hasn't lost an elegant simplicity - Another Galaxy is a beautifully optimistic spin on She's Leaving Home, and Father and Daughter speaks for itself.

As on his previous and underrated album You're The One, these are musically complex meditations on the past and God, sometimes with regret, sometimes with wry nostalgia about the certainties of yesteryear. But as always Simon addresses the complexities of the world with ambivalence and doubts.

With a supporting cast which includes Bill Frisell, Steve Gadd and Herbie Hancock, this is Simon on top form, and not looking to repeat former glories or styles as he addresses the post-September 11/Iraq War atmosphere with a poetic sensitivity.

He may not be as fashionable and hip as Neil Young, but he's made a more interesting album.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

SubAudible Hum: In Time For Spring, On Came The Snow (Inertia)

SubAudible Hum: In Time For Spring, On Came The Snow (Inertia)

The Melbourne-based outfit open this, their second album, with a pulsating electronic track which is increasingly dense and chant-like, and sounds like U2's guitarman the Edge has also been roped... > Read more

Volcano Choir: Unmap (Jagjaguwar)

Volcano Choir: Unmap (Jagjaguwar)

This album was on repeat play while I was at my desk and after a few times through I thought it one of those projects where people just make a interesting noise but haven't actually got a tune that... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

McCloud, California: You are what you eat

McCloud, California: You are what you eat

This is just an opinion: but nowadays it seems more difficult to find a really bad meal than a good one. That is unless you are in McCloud, a small town at the base of photogenic Mount Shasta... > Read more

Dubai International Airport: Aww mama, can this really be the end . . .

Dubai International Airport: Aww mama, can this really be the end . . .

If a bug no bigger than a pinhead flying into your mouth is a memorable moment in your day, then your short time on this earth is being frittered away needlessly. Such a bug flew into my mouth... > Read more