Album: Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music)

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The Independent Culture

Paul Simon's ruminations here on love, age and encroaching mortality have a valedictory flavour about them.

His typically meticulous, folksy guitar is garlanded with the usual cross-genre trappings – gospel samples, African guitars, jazz clarinet, Indian percussion – while his lyrics muse on what matters, and what lasts. In "The Afterlife", he discovers you still have to queue in heaven; in "Rewrite", a wannabe scriptwriter considers ditching emotional and artistic honesty for the happy ending that might earn some money; and in "Love and Hard Times", God decides to abandon earth and its human "slobs" to get on with his Creation elsewhere. The results sound like generic Simon – "Love Is Eternal Sacred Light" reconnects with "The Boy in the Bubble" – but too many of his ruminations, using the album's own dichotomy, leave one thinking, "So what?"

DOWNLOAD THIS The Afterlife; Love Is Eternal Sacred Light; Rewrite