Music Reviews

posted: March 25, 2011

The Latest from Rhymin’ Simon is… So Beautiful or So What

Hear Records CD, LP
The Latest from Rhymin’ Simon is…

I know most white guys can’t jump and certainly, I can’t dance to save my life, but this white guy doesn’t have an ounce of soul. No one can produce completely soulless music like Paul Simon. Sure, in the sleeve to his new So Beautiful or So What, there’s the picture of a room with a trillion guitars in it, along with plenty of thanking the “right” people for inspiration. Famed photographers Mark Seliger and Kevin Mazur shot the pictures, which probably cost more than Sub Pop has spent on its complete catalog. Elvis Costello, who waxes poetic about the record’s depth, tops off the presentation with his written introduction. But I’m not fooled.

I’m cringing 15 seconds into the pitch-corrected, acoustic-guitar-through-a-synthesizer effects just waiting for the vocals. Here they come: “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” meets Graceland with some Phil Collins-era Disney riffs thrown in for good measure. Wife Edie Brickell contributes background vocals, but you’d never know unless you read the almost indecipherable album notes. Come on, A Jewish guy singing about “Getting ready for Christmas Day,” going on about his nephew in Iraq? Really? Can this get any cheesier?

Not really, but this record maintains a high level of saccharine influence from start to finish. But who am I to doubt Rhymin’ Simon? Graceland sold 5 million copies in the US and another 5 million in the UK. I swore if I ever heard “Call Me Al” again I’d hurt someone, so this one goes straight to the dumpster before something bad happens.

–Jeff Dorgay