Produced by longtime collaborator Phil Ramone, Paul Simon's So Beautiful or So What features guitarist Vincent Nguini, percussionist Steve Shehan, backing vocals from Simon's wife, Edie Brickell, and his daughter, Lulu, and a generous helping of the bluegrass group Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
Label Hear Music
Release Date Apr 12, 2011
Artist Site Facebook
1 Getting Ready for Christmas Day
2 The Afterlife
3 Dazzling Blue
5 Love and Hard Times
6 Love Is Eternal Sacred Light
8 Questions for the Angels
9 Love and Blessings
10 So Beautiful or So What
It's fitting that 2011 promises to be a pretty big year for Paul Simon. The iconic songwriter turns 70 this fall and as he looks back on his legacy and classic solo albums -- from Rhymin' Simon to Graceland and beyond, all scheduled for a massive expanded reissue campaign* -- it's reassuring that he's still looking to the future as well. The creative spark still burns bright on So Beautiful or So What, Simon's first album of new songs in five years, arriving April 12 via Concord/Hear Music, a label that has come to specialize in special songwriters of note (James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello). The new project, says Simon, is "the best work I've done in twenty years", a claim that ranks So Beautiful into the esteemed era of his multi-platinum years of Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints.
Simon, who has produced most of his own solo works since the late 80's, brought in acclaimed veteran producer Phil Ramone for So Beautiful, a longtime collaborator that helped deliver an Album of the Year Grammy in 1976 for Still Crazy After All These Years. Ramone, known for his incredibly pristine sound, doesn't shape the music as much as enhance it, an attribute that comes through clearly on So Beautiful's luminous new track "The Afterlife". Here Simon's continuing fascination with intricate rhythms, brought to a pinnacle on his groundbreaking Graceland, is again on display on this wry lyrical take on waiting in line at the pearly gates. As the exotic time signatures create a mosaic of beat interplay, Simon's voice, his sweet tenor showing only minimal age, pursues a twisting, turning melody with an artisan's effortless skill.
*Sony Music has acquired the entire catalog of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and will begin a series of reissued and expanded versions of his entire catalog next year. The extensive list of recordings includes ten studio albums (including Simon's first three solo album, originally released on Columbia Records -- now part of Sony Music) as well as two live albums. DVD's and Blu-Ray discs will also figure into the release schedule as Sony Legacy will reissue four solo live video recordings along with two classic Simon and Garfunkel reunion performances, including the best-selling 1981 release Live in Central Park. Where possible, each of the solo album reissues will be expanded with bonus material, most of it previously unavailable.