What does it sound like?:
Paul Simon is by no means the first artist to decide to reinterpret songs from his back catalogue – Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel immediately come to mind, but no doubt there have been others. However, at 76 years old and with the end of his career drawing ever nearer, he’s obviously decided there’s no time like the present to take another look through his back pages. Pleasingly, he has steered away from the many obvious choices in his huge canon of work, choosing instead a selection of lesser known pieces for a revamp, going back as far as 1973 for One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor and going right through to 2011 with Questions For The Angels from So Beautiful or So What, an album that seemed to rather slip under the radar at the time.
Key to this album is the accompanying cast of musicians, including jazz luminaries such as Wynton Marsalis, Bill Frisell and Jack DeJohnette and, on a handful of tracks, chamber ensemble Ymusic. Simon seems particularly keen on another somewhat neglected album, You’re The One, selecting four pieces from the ten here for a fresh lick of paint, with Darling Lorraine and Pigs, Sheep and Wolves standing out. It’s also a revelation to hear Can’t Run But shorn of its South American trappings, but for me the strongest pieces are an old favourite, Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War, together with a couple of songs I hadn’t heard in years, Some Folks Lives Roll Easy and How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns – all are totally transformed from their original incarnations and given a completely new lease of life.
What does it all *mean*?
If this album should prove to be Paul Simon’s swansong, he has left us with a real treasure trove.
Goes well with…
Wistfulness and remembering together with celebration and renewal.
Might suit people who like…
New light through old windows.