So Beautiful or So What [CD+DVD]

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. [The Deluxe Limited Edition included a bonus DVD with making-of-the-album footage, a music video for "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," and a live recording of the album.]
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: 888072328365
  • Catalog Number: 32836

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Getting Ready For Christmas Day (4:06)
  2. 2 The Afterlife (3:40)
  3. 3 Dazzling Blue (4:32)
  4. 4 Rewrite (3:49)
  5. 5 Love and Hard Times (4:09)
  6. 6 Love Is Eternal Sacred Light (4:02)
  7. 7 Amulet (1:36)
  8. 8 Questions for the Angels (3:49)
  9. 9 Love & Blessings (4:18)
  10. 10 So Beautiful Or So What (4:08)
Disc 2
  1. 1 The Making of So Beautiful or So What
  2. 2 Getting Ready for Christmas Day
  3. 3 So Beautiful or So What
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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
Edie Brickell Harmony
David Finck Bass
Skip La Plante Gong, Wind Chimes
Jeanne LeBlanc Celli
Richard Locker Celli
Lois Martin Viola
Vincent Nguini Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
Steve Shehan Bass, Saz, Conga, Stick, Djembe, talking drum, Angklung, Crotale, Brushes, Resonator, Glass Harp
Sonny Terry Harmonica, Soloist
Sara Cutler Flute, Harp
Nancy Zeltsman Marimbas
Charles Pillow Clarinet
Gabe Witcher Fiddle
Etienne Stadwijk Celeste
Karaikudi R. Mani Ensemble
Yacouba Sissoko Kora
Desiree Elsevier Viola
Mick Rossi Piano
Vincent Lionti Viola
Jim Oblon Percussion, Drums
V.B. Madhusudhanan Tabla
Mary Abt Clarinet
Lulu Simon Harmony
Joshua Swift Dobro
Technical Credits
Elvis Costello Liner Notes
Paul Simon Composer, Producer, Whistle
Gil Goldstein Arranger
Greg Calbi Mastering
Phil Ramone Producer
Andy Smith Engineer
Geoff Gans Art Direction
Reverend J.M. Gates Engineer
Eddie Simon Management
Jeff Kramer Management
Sven Geier Cover Image
Chris Bear Introduction
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