Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger (2016)


Released June 2016

I am very fond of this album. It slowly grows on you and I find is extremely nostalgic as the great man reminds you in snatches just what a contribution he has made over many, many years. There are no great “You Can Call Me Al” hooks on this album, the memorable bits just float in and out of your consciousness, fleeting bits in each song, a line or two of sheer brilliance here and there which just have you smiling in recognition of such a great lyrics man at work. You just nod your head knowingly and think “that’s typical Paul Simon…”.

Musically, Simon explores contemporary dace music rhythms, with some strong, reverberating drum sounds and some authentic South American drums too. All sorts of other instruments are used - different woodwind instruments, even a trumping tuba at one point. Simon experiments with all sorts of things, his muse certainly hasn’t deserted him, even into his seventies. He is just a truly remarkable singer/songwriter. He still has so much to offer. I can’t speak highly enough about this album. I love it.


1. The Werewolf
2. Wristband
3. The Clock
4. Street Angels
5. Stranger To Stranger
6. In A Parade
7. Proof Of Love
8. Garden Of Edie
9. The Riverbank
10. Cool Papa Bell
11. Insomniac's Lullaby
12. Horace And Pete

“The Werewolf” is a chunky chugging opener  with a big bassy beat. A very powerful song that grows on you, considerably, with each listen. “Wristband” is infuriatingly catchy and rhythmically mesmerising. It has excellent witty lyrics and a simply great bass at the end. “The Clock”, however, is a bit of an obviously  Pink Floyd-ish waste of time, so to speak. I will forgive him, though. “Street Angels” has hints of a thumping hip hop backing and is just intoxicating at times. All these songs deserve multiple listens.

The title track, “Stranger To Stranger” is both dignified and beautiful. Again, it makes me feel so nostalgic for all the years Simon has given us. There are many hints of the “Rhythm Of The Saints” album in its effortless, easy groove and Simon’s gorgeous laid back delivery. There is a lovely brass solo at the end. “In A Parade” has another dance music influenced, pounding drum sound and some cynically witty lyrics and continues the musically powerful but lyrically understated beauty of this album. “I wear a hoodie”, says Simon, wryly.

“Proof Of Love” is another nonchalant beauty of a track. The quality is never-ending, it really is. The sharp acoustic guitar of to the instrumental  “Garden Of Edie” is just superb. Such wonderful clarity of sound. “The Riverbank” also  has a great shuffling groove. The tuba features on the attractive “Cool Papa Bell”“Insomniac’s Lullaby” and the tender ”Horace And Pete” are both gentle songs on which to end this beguiling album. It is worth many a listen.


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