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Paul Simon - You're the One Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 September 2000
You're The One,
Warner Bros. Records, 2000
| Performance 7.5 | Sound 8 |

ImageNon-linear song structures, stream of consciousness lyrics and world rhythms abound on Paul Simon’s new album You’re The One. Paul Simon is one of the last real commercially viable singer/songwriters from the ‘60s. He’s still putting out tunes that aren’t necessarily the hippest, but his new album You’re The One is a nice 44-minute distraction from the negativity than seems to be at the forefront of both music and the nightly news today.

Paul Simon has never been a vocal virtuoso and on this album he comes across more as a beat-poet than a singer. Simon has a midlife crisis on the song "Old," which features a Buddy Holly-esque guitar tone and Simon lyrically making light of his own growing old. The song "Pigs, Sheep and Wolves" is a metaphor for the different personalities of people in society, and reminded me a bit of the George Orwell’s political novel, "Animal Farm." The rest of the songs on the album focus more on love and personal relationships, with songs such as "Darling Lorraine," "Love" and "Senorita with a Necklace of Tears."

Like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon has heavily embraced world music. On You’re The One, the rhythms are based more around bongos, congas and other percussion instruments than a traditional drum set and bass guitar. Fans of Western pop music need not fear, though. There are enough pop hooks and elements to Simon’s music to ensure that the listener will not feel as if he or she is being led into the African veldt without a tour guide or map to find the bridge (or the chorus) back.

In many instances here, Simon uses lyrics that do not rhyme, with an almost improvisational feel. It seems as though we are sitting in on a well-executed practice session with extremely talented musicians. Being a drummer myself, I can tell you that Steve Gadd, who plays on virtually all of the tracks on this album, is one of the most talented people to ever pick up a pair of sticks. Playing the drum kit more as a multitude of different instruments rather than just a time-keeper, he performs the most outstandingly subtle drumming I have heard in quite some time.

The album is so quirky that it takes a few listens to gain an appreciation for the free-flowing structure of the songs. There isn’t a "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" or "Mrs. Robinson" that smacks you over the head as an obvious hit song. Of course, Simon’s new work will always live in the shadow of his Simon and Garfunkle days. I didn’t expect the songwriting on this album to be as strong as on a Simon and Garfunkle record, but certainly there are moments here when Simon conjures a few melodies and memories from his glory days.

Rather than fighting technology, Simon has taken a cue from The Who and has made this entire album available online. Fans can download the music completely free, and can listen to it for 30 days. Once the trial period is over, the MP3 files will become inactive and the owner will then be given the option of purchasing the album. This no-risk method of auditioning the album shows the confidence that Warner Bros. Records has in Paul Simon’s music. Certain brick-and-mortar record stores have 30-day refund policies, but these requires holding on to the receipt and driving back to the store to return the CD if it doesn’t live up to expectations.

With a good computer and a fast Internet connection, anyone can have the complete album in no time and decide for themselves if this is one that they want to add to their collection. With this in mind, you can’t help but give Paul Simon’s You’re The One a try. Even without this no-risk trial period, I’d recommend it anyway.

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