So Beautiful or So What

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Touted as Paul Simon's return to traditional songwriting -- Simon writing alone with a guitar and a pen instead of constructing songs around rhythmic loops the way he's done since Graceland -- So Beautiful or So What doesn't feel like a return to the '70s. From the moment the record kicks in with the heavy blues stomp and samples of "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," it's evident that while Simon may have changed his style of composing, he's not abandoning his method of record-making, which is distinctly engaged with the present. When Bob Dylan sings about Alicia Keys he does so with an old-fashioned swing, but when Simon writes a verse about Jay-Z he does it ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Touted as Paul Simon's return to traditional songwriting -- Simon writing alone with a guitar and a pen instead of constructing songs around rhythmic loops the way he's done since Graceland -- So Beautiful or So What doesn't feel like a return to the '70s. From the moment the record kicks in with the heavy blues stomp and samples of "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," it's evident that while Simon may have changed his style of composing, he's not abandoning his method of record-making, which is distinctly engaged with the present. When Bob Dylan sings about Alicia Keys he does so with an old-fashioned swing, but when Simon writes a verse about Jay-Z he does it within the context of an album anchored in polyrhythms, chattering guitars, and digital loops, where the handful of delicate acoustic numbers function as a counterpoint to the clean bustle of the rest of the record. Certainly, So Beautiful or So What isn't as reliant on soundscapes as its Brian Eno-produced predecessor, but it is no rejection of texture, just as it is in no way a repudiation of the musical sensibility of Graceland, whose rhythms are as firmly felt here as on any record he's made since. Rather, So Beautiful elegantly touches upon each of Simon's solo signatures within a compact 38 minutes, its brevity indicating the precision of Simon's focus. There are no wasted sounds or words here, and if he offers some of his simplest, prettiest tunes in years "Love & Hard Times," "Amulet" and spends a considerable chunk of the record dwelling on spiritual matters, the album is neither steeped in nostalgia nor haunted by death. Paul Simon is remarkably clear-eyed in assessing the modern world and his place in it, not shying away from contemporary sounds -- if anything, the production is occasionally a tad too brittle, like so many digital-age recordings -- but not chasing after youth either. He's merely living in his time and reporting, returning with an album that's vivid, vibrant, and current in a way none of his peers have managed to achieve.
Rolling Stone - Will Hermes
Simon's first album in five years is full of heavy business: life's meaning, beauty, brutality and brevity.... But the songs rarely feel heavy. Instead, they combine the freewheeling folk of 1972's Paul Simon with the brilliant studio sculpting of Graceland. It's his best album since 1990's The Rhythm of the Saints, and it also sums up much of what makes Simon great.
National Public Radio
So Beautiful or So What balances great poetry and pop. Paul Simon is a national treasure.

So Beautiful or So What balances great poetry and pop. Paul Simon is a national treasure.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/12/2011
  • Label: Hear Music
  • UPC: 888072328143
  • Catalog Number: 32814
  • Sales rank: 42,137

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Paul Simon Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar, Percussion, Glockenspiel, Electric Guitar, Vocals, 12-string Guitar, Bells, Guitar (Nylon String)
Doyle Lawson Background Vocals
Dr. Michael White Clarinet
Steve Gorn Bansuri
Edie Brickell Background Vocals
David Finck Bass
Skip La Plante Gong, Harp, Wind Chimes
Jeanne LeBlanc Celli
Richard Locker Celli
Lois Martin Viola
Vincent Nguini Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Steve Shehan Bass, Saz, Cymbals, Stick, Djembe, talking drum, Angklung, Crotale, Brushes, Resonator, Glass Harp
Pamela Sklar Flute
Sonny Terry Harmonica, Soloist
Diane Lesser English Horn
Sara Cutler Flute, Harp
Nancy Zeltsman Marimbas
Elizabeth Mann Flute
Mick Rossi Piano
Charles Pillow Clarinet
Gabe Witcher Fiddle
Etienne Stadwijk Celeste
Karaikudi R. Mani Ensemble, Vocal Percussion
Yacouba Sissoko Kora
Desiree Elsevier Viola
Vincent Lionti Viola
Chris Bear electronics
Jim Oblon Bass, Percussion, Drums, Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar
Mary Abt Clarinet
Lulu Simon Background Vocals
Joshua Swift Dobro
Technical Credits
Elvis Costello Liner Notes
Paul Simon Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Whistle
Gil Goldstein Arranger
Greg Calbi Mastering
Phil Ramone Producer
Andy Smith Engineer
Geoff Gans Art Direction
Kevin Mazur Band Photo
Sven Geier Cover Image
Chris Bear Introduction
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2011

    Amazing

    This album is as NPR says his best since Graceland. Every track is winner.
    Don't waste your time with the deluxe version. You don't get bonus tracks and the making of the album video can be seen on Paul's website. Save your money and buy the LP or regular CD.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Simply great

    This album is incredible. Paul has written an album that is stunning. I have been a fan for nearly 50 Years, and this album doesn't disappoint. There is no other artist whose work means as much to me. Paul Simon is still the BEST after all these years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews