mon 19/11/2018

CD: Paul Simon - In The Blue Light | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Paul Simon - In The Blue Light

CD: Paul Simon - In The Blue Light

As he winds down his career the master songwriter takes a look back

Paul gets behind the blues

Paul Simon is currently traversing the globe on his Farewell Tour. His new album clearly accompanies that. It’s a thoughtful look backwards wherein Simon has plucked numbers from his catalogue he feels deserve another go-round, recording them with guest artists, often from the world of jazz (notably Wynton Marsalis). It is, by its nature, somewhat self-indulgent, for there are none of his most famous songs here. These are numbers he wants to bring out of the shadows; that he reckons are worth further attention. On occasion, he’s absolutely right.

The album opens with "One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor", originally a chugging rock’n’roll frolic on 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. It has become a faintly Christmassy piano jazz shuffle that recalls Cab Calloway. It’s not unpleasant, not better, just different. The singer is famed for the pithy wit of his songwriting and, at the album’s best, he grabs the listener by the mind and heartstrings. A good case in point is “Darling Lorraine” from 2000’s You’re the One (from which four of this 10-song set are drawn). The poignancy was arguably submerged on the original’s twangy “adult contemporary” arrangement but here, in more pared-back form, the song is affecting.

Elsewhere New York chamber sextet yMusic get involved on "Can’t Run But" and "Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War". The latter is a particularly literary song and the delicate orchestrations forefront the ache at its heart. Something about it recalls Al Stewart.

I suppose your preference regarding these versions and their originals depends on your relationship with Paul Simon. I possess none of his records and his existence generally passes me by. Music journalists should occasionally make such matters clear with artists who have long, storied careers. It tempers the relevance of what they have to say. From where I’m standing, then, In The Blue Light is an album that, in some places, has a delicate beauty, but in others, overeggs the pudding towards sentimentalism.

Overleaf: watch mini-documentary The Story of In The Blue Light

These are numbers he wants to bring out of the shadows; that he reckons are worth further attention - on occasion he’s absolutely right.

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Comments

“I suppose your preference regarding these versions and their originals depends on your relationship with Paul Simon. I possess none of his records and his existence generally passes me by. Music journalists should occasionally make such matters clear with artists who have long, storied careers. It tempers the relevance of what they have to say.” It sure tempers the relevance of your review, dear “music journalist”. And that of your editor-in-chief too, who uncannily tasked you with reviewing an artist whose “existence generally passes you by”. Whatever next?

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters