By: Sierra Drucker
In keeping with this month’s theme of religion on The Next Family, I bring you the impressive new gospel-tinged album from Mr. Sound of Silence himself, Paul Simon.
So Beautiful or So What was released by Hear Music on April 12th to rave reviews. Elvis Costello proclaims “I believe that this remarkable, thoughtful, often joyful record deserves to be recognized as among Paul Simon’s very finest achievements.”
Have a listen to my favorite Afro-pop influenced track from the album, “The Afterlife.”
The songwriting on this album alone is astounding, comparable to Harry Nilsson. Simon is a storyteller and a poet. Add to that an incredibly fresh, clean production value, courtesy of Simon and legendary South African producer Phil Ramone (Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and Carly Simon among many more). Simon allowed himself to be playful on this album, experimenting with instruments and lyrics, but always with a specific vision of sound.
The theme of God, however, came about by accident on this album. Simon only noticed this recurring motif after the songs were written. Not a religious man himself, this fixation on God took him by surprise, but he went with it to great result.
Here’s another gem, “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light.”
Like a fine wine, Simon’s writing and voice has become richer with age. At a brief 38 minutes, this album is an easy listen and an instant classic.