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Monday, May 2, 2011

Music Review: Paul Simon ~ "So Beautiful or So What"


To have a career in music in the year 2011 is not an easy thing to do. No one buys records or CDs anymore and iTunes has been the best and worst thing to ever happen to music. Yet, all of these changes haven't slowed Paul Simon down one bit.

Simon is a bonafide musical legend; a recording artist who has been making records for almost 50 years. During his long career, first as part of the duo Simon and Garfunkel and then as a solo artist, Simon has been less concerned with writing hit songs and more concerned with challenging himself to put together a cohesive group of songs to form an album.

It is this attention to making "albums" instead of songs that has awarded Simon the Grammy Award for "Album of the Year" three times in his career. First, in 1970 for Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," then again in 1975 for his solo album "Still Crazy After All These Years," and in 1986 for his ground-breaking album "Graceland."

So, here we are 25 years since "Graceland" was released and once again Paul Simon has delivered a masterpiece with his newest release "So Beautiful or So What." That's not to say that Simon hasn't made some great music since then. His 2 CDs from the past decade, 2000's "You're The One" and 2006's "Surprise" are excellent.

But what makes "So Beautiful or So What" stand-out from the previous two releases seems to be Simon's focus on getting 10 songs that just fit together perfectly. From the first note of "Getting Ready For Christmas Day" to the last track "So Beautiful or So What" this is just a pure listening experience -- and without a doubt one of the best albums Simon has ever recorded.

While other artists seem to slow down in their twilight years, Simon is not content to just strap on a guitar and play and sing. Instead, he continues to explore and experiment with different textures and sounds. I have been playing this CD non-stop for over two weeks and I hear something new every time. That this CD gets better with every listen is a testament to Simon and his love of making music for his audience ... but more importantly for himself.

When Grammy time rolls around don't be surprised if "So Beautiful or So What" is not only a contender for album of the year but a winner too.

Drumroll please… 10 out of 10 drumsticks!

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