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Paul Simon - You're The One Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 August 2001
Paul Simon,
You're The One (DVD-A),
Warner Bros. Records, 2001
| Performance 8 | Sound 8 |

ImageNow here’s an interesting choice for a surround remix. If you were Paul Simon's record company, would you choose his 2000 release You’re The One as the artist’s first DVD-A release? I suspect not. But suspicions can be wrong and, in fact, this album, understated and perhaps a bit too deep for some people, works extremely well in surround and delivers its message of age, wisdom and reflection very effectively.

Warners may be limiting themselves largely to remixes, but at least they are doing them well when they do them. Andy Smith engineered the original and handled the surround remix. This is always a good idea in my view -- if you can do it and the appropriate people are available and up for it, use them, if only for the continuity and knowledge of the material that is likely to be available to the original engineer on a project. The key to this album, sonically and conceptually, is its laid-back, understated nature. What’s needed in the mixing department is a balance and use of surround that is devoid of frills and handled as matter-of-factly as the original stereo, and that’s just what we get here. The mix is entirely appropriate for the material and lets the excellent core band come through, with their African and South American influences loud and clear, always perfectly complementing and embracing Simon’s expressive vocal and thought-provoking lyrics.

I don’t know how well this album went down when it was released. My suspicion is that not too many people would have persevered to unearth its gems. Real discovery of this material does not come without a bit of effort – effort that regrettably few people are prepared to make these days.

In his first collection of original material for, what was it, ten years?, Simon comes across as older and wiser. There is no one song that leaps out and grabs you; there are no "hits" as such on this album to my ears. I am reminded a little of the early 1980s album Hearts and Bones, but I would not take any comparison too far. What you get is a surprisingly wide-ranging collection of stories, some in the third person and some much more personally presented. This is a quintessential songwriter talking. Simon says in "That’s Where I Belong," the strong opening number, "Somewhere in a burst of glory/Sound becomes a song/I’m bound to tell a story/That’s where I belong." This kind of writing, this kind of storytelling, is unique.

"Darling Lorraine," the second cut, tells a tragic tale with a hint of dark humor, switching from first person to a third-person aside in the middle and back again. "Old," the third cut, is why you have to say that Simon is now "older and wiser," because you just can’t get away with a song like this when you’re younger, or have the inclination to write it. The presentation is matter-of-fact; the meaning is deeper: "Wisdom is old/The Koran is old/The Bible’s old/The greatest story ever told… Disagreements?/Work ’em out."

That’s another thing. There is spirituality here, too, not some easily-labeled born-againness, but an almost indefinable sense of something deep and meaningful. It comes across best in the closing track, "Quiet." The instrumentation is almost entirely different from the rest of the album, with soft, held reed organ notes, whirly pipe subtle in the background and harp and other ethereal acoustic sounds.

Go and check this album out. Spend some time with it. Take the time to discover its depth. All efforts will be repaid, in an environment where surround, perhaps surprisingly, makes a real contribution to the overall accessibility of the material.

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