eMusic Review 1
Since his 1986 blockbuster Graceland, Paul Simon has been writing songs the same way an MC pens rhymes — to beats or to nearly finished tracks. So Beautiful or So What flips that script. Its foundation is the veteran singer-songwriter's finely tuned melodies, his intricate guitar licks and his knack for seamlessly merging personal and sociological commentary.
More than anything, So Beautiful feels and sounds like a Paul Simon album. This nearly-native New Yorker has always been the most cosmopolitan and often the most experimental of his generation's marquee singer-songwriters: As far back as Simon & Garfunkel's 1970 swan song Bridge Over Troubled Water, he was constructing rhythms from tape loops ("Cecilia") and singing over indigenous recordings ("El Condor Pasa [If I Could]"). Looking to the past and the future, the East and the West, So Beautiful's 10 tracks present themselves as a grand statement on life in the 21st century, even as it contemplates the afterlife. Despite its organic origins, at times, it resembles the highly-percussive Graceland; it's got rippling guitars courtesy of Cameroonian musician Vincent Nguini, and kora, the West African harp. There are bluegrass flavors from renown dobro/pedal steel player Mark Stewart, Indian… read more »