Monday, 8 June 2020

Art Garfunkel

Breakaway (1975)

I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)/Rag Doll/Break Away/Disney Girls/Waters Of March/My Little Town/I Only Have Eyes For You/Looking For The Right One/99 Miles From L.A./The Same Old Tears On A New Background

This was Art Garfunkel's most successful album, from October 1975. I remember seeing its cover as I flicked through record sleeves back then in the shops but it wasn't my sort of thing. It was the sort of gentle, easy listening fare that filled student rooms (particularly female ones). It is immaculately produced and Garfunkel's voice is as it always was - sweetly high-pitched but strangely one-dimensional. It is a perfectly pleasant listening experience, however, although lacking in much intrinsic excitement.

The album begins with a smooth, slickly-produced cover of Stevie Wonder's I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever), full of crystal clear drums, percussion and warm bass. 

An even more laid-back vibe is to be had on the summery, peaceful Rag Doll. All very pleasant and this ambience is continued on the sleepy Break Away

The Beach Boys' Bruce Johnston-penned Disney Girls is absolutely tailor-made for Garfunkel's tender, plaintive voice. It is a beautiful song and he does it perfect justice, capturing all its nostalgic sadness. I have always found it to be heartbreakingly moving song. Lovely.

Waters Of March is an acoustic, folky early Simon & Garfunkel-style song. The tempo increases slightly on Art's cover of old sparring partner/soulmate Paul Simon's My Little Town. He almost sounds like Simon at points during the song. 

The album's big number one hit was the cover of Hoagy Carmichael's I Only Have Eyes For You. At the time the teenage me found the song desperately dull, but now find it washes over me like a warm bath, pleasurably. There is some lovely, subtle guitar on it that I missed first time around.

Stephen Bishop's Looking For The Right One is a quiet ballad (now there's a surprise) and 99 Miles From L.A., although ethereally appealing, does little to raise the temperature and neither does the somnolent closer, The Same Old Tears On A New Background. This was basically a very quiet, tender album but one far too homogenous in style to register too much with me. It is quality in its production and delivery but rarely gets out of second gear.

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