There is a hidden danger when a new album is released by a long serving musician. Will they stick to their values and success, or will they try and keep up with the times, introducing guest stars/rappers and mess it all up? Ahem, Lionel Ritchie!
We see that the reason Paul Simon is a musical icon and still so successful at almost 70, is that his work is timeless. He can bring his songwriting up to date, without losing any of the attributes we know him for. Within 'Getting Ready For Christmas Day' he talks of the joy of the family time and the story of Christmas, but also the financial issues and those families torn apart.
'I got a nephew in Iraq, it's his third time back, but it's ending up the way it began. With the luck of a beginner, he'll be eating turkey dinner, on some mountain top in Pakistan'
His ability to convey the most mundane aspects of life in his typical storytelling rhyming style remains primary to this entire collection. His lyrics are always worth listening to, wise and to the point. Yet you don't get a sense of life getting him down. He approaches the issues of today in a very philosophical, practical and yet sometimes thankful way. It is what it is, and he's happy with his lot.
'The Afterlife' combines that catchy acoustic skill with the matter of fact aspect of death. Perhaps a satirical look at the process of the afterlife 'you've got to fill out a form first, and then you wait in the line'. I suppose the lyrics put a different slant on all of those stories you hear about what happens when you die. Actually he just jokes about being another process, just like we go through everyday.
With a long serving career, as Paul Simon has, there have been many influences running through his work, and even prior to going solo. Not one of these has been neglected, clever! There are glimpses of the past, the riff behind 'so Beautiful Or So What' is reminiscent of Mrs Robinson and could suddenly burst into it at any moment. 'Dazzling Blue' starts with the distinct African influence used throughout Graceland, and nothing about his style has had to change. Everything appears to work effortlessly.
All of this comes with his naturally beautiful vocals and acoustic talent. Just one phrase can sum up this new addition to the Paul Simon collection; it's everything you've ever loved about him!