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Rhythm of the Saints

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Rhythm of the Saints

Artist: Paul Simon
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: September 1990
Note(s): 1999 Grammy for best Folk album

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

After the joyful, brilliantly played Graceland, any record would be a let down but Rhythm of the Saints, with the help of gifted Brazilian, South African, American and French musicians, has its own distinctive appeal. Rhythm of the Saints opens with the ecstatic The Obvious Child, propelled by the amazing precussion of Brazil's Grupo Cultural OLODUM, which has the energy of Graceland. Then the record settles into a mellower, atmospheric percussion based mode. The horn based Proof is the only other song with the juice of Graceland but Rhythm has its subtle pleasures. It has a great sense of place, often capturing the mysteries of the rain forest. If anything, Simon seemed more comfortable on Rhythm of the Saints than Graceland. On Graceland, Simon's tales of neurotic New Yorkers clashed with the unpretentious music of the great South African musicians. On Rhythm of the Saints, the lyrics meld easily with the spiritual, sensual sense of the music. On The Coast, Simon quickly and easily creates a vivid scene, "A family of musicians took shelter for the night in the little harbor church of St. Cecilia", and with the help of Graceland alumni Bakithi Khumalo and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the music shifts from delicate verses to euphoric choruses. Towards the end, the record gets a little too subtle and mellow but generally Rhythm has an interesting, textured mood. She Moves On and Born at the Right Time have nice, positive grooves and appealing, gentle  background vocals. As he even showed on his lesser, but still appealing, Capeman cd, Simon has a gift for creating a musical hook and lyrical turn of phrase and Rhythm of the Saints has the added edge of an appealing, evocative mood.

Here's what others reviewers have to say:

"...extends his reach not only further into the riches of world-beat music but further into the realm of the spiritual...a song cycle that examines with visionary beauty and brooding intensity the viability of faith in a corrupt, heartless and sometimes merely predictable world..."  4 Stars - Excellent Rolling Stone 11/15/90

"...The second chapter in Simon's globetrotting phase is a production of epic proportions...with luscious, seductively rhythmic results. It's just that, somehow, the sensory pleasures of the album are more persuasive than the intellectual equation of the experiment..." 3.5 Stars - Good plus Down Beat 2/91



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