Paul Simon’s new album shows much promise as it awaits a June 3 release. Paul Simon’s new album sees him expanding his musical creative palette, again, going for an even more eclectic fusion of styles. This time, he draws inspiration from micro-tonal music by modern music theorist Harry Partch, and collaborates with Italian electronic dance artist Clap! Clap! All of the songs take on the storytime feel that is his trademark, but the subject matter of the stories in the songs Paul Simon has written are already hinting at a mind boggling experience.
On the first single, already out online, he sings about not having a wristband at a concert, and the struggles and consequences thereof. The song is naturally titled “Wristband.” It’s a story about one of the struggles that comes with being a rock star. It’s catchy. It’s different, but it’s still Paul Simon. It’s somewhat autobiographical, as he’s faced similar situations of not being recognized by security at his own concerts. At least a few other tracks off the new album should contain a similar feel. Clap! Clap! collaborates with Simon on three tracks. Even at 74-years-old, Paul Simon is creating conceptually rich albums with focused collaborations.
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Simon referenced his earlier work when explaining to Rolling Stone how he had to approach Stranger to Stranger in order to make it relevant to music listeners.
“They go, ‘Is it going to be Graceland? Is it going to be “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”? Simon and Garfunkel? The Capeman?’ To get people to listen with open ears, you have to really make something that is interesting because people are prepared for it not to be interesting.”
That’s probably why this album took five years to make. Simon’s last album, So Beautiful or So What, was well received, and perhaps his best recent work as far as chart performance. Stranger to Stranger has an opportunity to do even better if the collaboration with Clap! Clap! can give him an appeal beyond his core fan base. The humorous approach of “Wristband” can also connect with more general music listeners. But not all the songs promise the same lighthearted experience. He’ll tackle some extremely serious topics, like the Sandy Hook school massacre, and concepts related to wounded veterans.
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Both Paul Simon and his early collaborator, Art Garfunkel, have come back into general view after one of their early hit songs circulated the Internet in a Ben Affleck viral video. The song, “The Sound of Silence,” is used to accompany Ben Affleck’s sad look while listening to feedback on reviews from Batman v Superman. All those young superhero fans have since become aware of the 1960s hit song, and have made it a hit once again. The song jumped back up the charts and is holding the sixth position on the Hot Rock Songs Billboard chart. A heavy metal version of that same song, covered by Disturbed, is holding the third position on that same chart.
In regard to there being any support from Art Garfunkel on the new album, it’s doubtful. Last year, Art revealed his frustrations about getting overlooked by Paul Simon throughout his career, whether wanting to reunite or just tour together. His comments during an interview with The Telegraph, state that he befriended Paul back then to make him feel better about his height and that it led to Paul becoming a “monster.” These probably aren’t the type of words likely to win back favors. The musical world still remembers and celebrates Simon & Garfunkel, even if the two would rather not speak.
Paul Simon’s new album likely has a lot more great songwriting to look forward to. But hopeful fans will have to wait until summer for the full reveal.
[Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]