Paul Simon
So Beautiful or So What


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jake C. Taylor USER (89 Reviews)
April 28th, 2011 | 36 replies | 6,912 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Elvis Costello thinks it's awesome; so should you.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

A woven approach for an album, So Beautiful or So What is indeed beautiful, but it's not necessarily as completely traditional (man vs guitar) as it's been proclaimed. Nuances of world instrumentation from the kora to the angklung are recollections from Paul Simon's Graceland-Saints period, while his own eloquent dramatisation of life, spirit and time are everlasting items that he's never forgotten to write about. These, and others, are scattered seemingly at random, and he still manages to throw in the odd audio loop wherever appropriate, though less stridently than previous releases. So, perhaps what makes this somewhat different is its diversity, and it's where this album shows radiance. With a little bit of every decade thrown into one neat 38 minute package it's a wonder where Simon's music can't take him.

While being distinctly bittersweet end-to-end, it isn't without jovial notions thrown into the works, like the opener, “Getting Ready for Christmas” which at first sounds a little startling through a rotating speaker effect on his acoustic guitar – similarly the rest of the album is littered with brief flashes of production brilliance thanks to Phil Ramone. Likewise, “Love is Eternal Sacred Light” is smartly written amidst a punchy kick drum and rocking rhythm combo, artfully constructed lyrics propel it to towards a greater wisdom. Then there are dreamy acoustic landscapes, “Love & Hard Times”, “Amulet” and “Questions for the Angels”, three of his alleged traditional works, which are all elegantly tranquil. The latter of the three is possibly the album's gem-track, underpinned by melancholic acoustic guitar and hidden behind subtle vocal-work like “If you shop for love at a bargain store and you don't get what you bargained for... can you get your money back”; you'll find plenty of other shimmers of lyrical artistry elsewhere too.

What becomes clear – rather quickly – is that those initial woes of same ol' tricks aren't present; Simon has in fact created a record anchored around his own competencies, particularly through a guitar, assortment of worldly instruments and other influences like bluegrass and rockabilly. This is indeed no one trick pony. With his patchwork of influences and stylistic gatherings, Simon inevitably reaches what he clearly set out to achieve. If your considering a purchase, download or whatever happens now, consider this. It's been a while since he sounded so definite, so assured of his own aptitude that it's an insanely appropriate addition to his lifetime of accomplishments.



Recent reviews by this author
Cavern CavernHans Zimmer The Dark Knight Rises
Periphery Periphery II: This Time It's PersonalSantigold Master of My Make-Believe
Age of Evil A.O.E.Meshuggah Koloss
user ratings (43)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
taylormemer
April 28th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Woops

Ponton
Emeritus
April 28th 2011



5775 Comments


you're alive

Digging: Mimicking Birds - Mimicking Birds

taylormemer
April 28th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah. Hopefully for longer this time.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2011



7011 Comments


Great review. And where the hell did you just come out from? Rare species of Pokemon, you are.

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

taylormemer
April 29th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, at least I am not forgotten.

Nagrarok
April 29th 2011



7956 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not as good as I'd hoped, Simon & Garfunkel will always be above his solo career for me, but this is still pretty great. Also have a pos.

taylormemer
April 29th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, I guess we all must remember, S&G are long gone, although anyone catch their recent reunion tours? Those were terrific.

omnipanzer
April 29th 2011



21391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hope this is as good as you make it sound. POS

Digging: Dead Combo - A bunch of meninos

rasputin
April 29th 2011



14504 Comments


Well, at least I am not forgotten.


how could we ;)

good to see your writing again

omnipanzer
May 5th 2011



21391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ooof, this is very much a return to "The Rhythm of the Saints" for me which is not a great thing. I truly hope this becomes a grower for me as PS is one of my all time favorite musicians.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2011



7011 Comments


Small typo in first paragraph.

taylormemer
May 30th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ooo snap.

taylormemer
May 30th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But thankyou.

AtavanHalen
May 30th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is gr8 m8

taylormemer
May 30th 2011



4887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Indeedissimo.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2011



7011 Comments


Well spotted taylormemer. And you're most welcome =)

Cheers!

TheBoss88
June 16th 2011



208 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is still quite impressive.

TheBoss88
June 26th 2011



208 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bump again. Album keeps getting better and I haven't strayed too far from it since it's been released. Probably my favorite this year so far unless I'm really REALLY forgetting something else I liked.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2011



14884 Comments


questions for the angels and love and hard times are beautiful

AtavanHalen
July 4th 2011



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, Questions is probably my favourite song on this. One of PS's best ever songs.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy