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You're the One

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: You're the One

Artist: Paul Simon
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: October 2000

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

Pushing 60 and in his fifth decade of recording, Paul Simon is still making interesting music. You're The One combines Hearts and Bones' introspection and Rhythm Of The Saints' exotic rhythms for a CD devoted largely to quiet, thoughtful examinations of the mysteries and delights of love. You're The One is nothing new but it has great musicianship and concise, vivid writing.

You're The One starts with a statement of purpose. On That's Where I Belong, Simon tells us he's still "bound to tell a story" in the moment where, "in a burst of glory, sound becomes a song." He expresses domestic happiness, finding in "every ending a beginning" but also belongs in an alien world where "a spiny little island man plays a jingling banjo" walking "to a river where the water meets the sky." The music is ethereal, opening with a bamboo flute and carried forward by evocative percussion and Vincent Nguini's delicate guitar. Darling Lorraine is reminiscent of Rhythm Of The Saints, with a hint of Hearts and Bones' sad "arc of a love affair." The sound starts dreamily, as Simon sings about the exciting mystery of a relationship's start, then has Proof's cheekiness as Simon's character expresses shock then feigns indifference to Lorraine's threat to leave. The song ends with sad restraint as he begs her to stay. Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears, which could be called That's How I Want It To Be, has Hearts and Bones' reflective feel but also is quietly optimistic. Simon riffs on being born again, finding "a cure for all the suffering that mankind must endure" and writing a song that could repent the sins he's committed. Look At That has good texture from steady percussion layered with chimes and guitar. Look At That is a pleasantly meandering appreciation of life until it gets to a good hook: "ask somebody to love you, takes a nerve."

You're The One is almost always interesting but it could have used more of the feisty energy of the amusingly cranky Old, a fun, compact rocker. Simon pays tribute to Peggy Sue in the lyrics and the song's Bo Diddley beat, singing "Buddy Holly still goes on" but adding "his catalog was sold" and also that "genocide still goes on." He resents friends saying he's old. Then he argues the length of our lives is irrelevant compared to how long God and the universe have been around. He dismisses mundane squabbles with: "Disagreements? Work 'em out" then abruptly and impudently ends the song, "take your clothes off, Adam and Eve." Simon's 80's travels, besides leading to one excellent and one very good record, introduced Simon to musicians who are sometimes better than he deserves. They make the sound appealing even when Simon's self analysis loses interest. Bakithi Kumalo's bass, Nguini's guitar and percussion give the title track the light buoyancy of Late In The Evening or You Can Call Me Al. Simon sings he'd do anything to keep his love safe then makes himself crazy thinking she's waiting for things to go wrong, blames her for making him cry then realizes he makes her cry.

You're The One is weakest when Simon gets too serious. Nguini and Kumalo's light touch is missing on The Teacher, a pedantic attempt at myth making. Over good percussion, Simon sings about being in a tribe, walking into the unknown and looking to a master for guidance. Like on Rhythm Of The Saints, Simon's writing on You're The One is stripped down and simplified, sometimes to the point there's not much to it. Love is sweet but fairly pointless. But just when it seems totally innocuous, the music brightens on a bridge where, with Nguini's help, Simon's voice poignantly bends as he sings "we think it's easy" but "we should be grateful" for love. Pigs, Sheep and Wolves' fairy tale about a pig framing a wolf for murder is a well meaning allegory condemning the death penalty but Simon's cutesy delivery undermines its power. Hurricane Eye isn't particularly meaningful but it's appealingly loose limbed. It starts with a banjo and, with good percussion and guitar, easily flows into different musical forms. You're The One ends strikingly with the stark Quiet. It's a little like Bridge Over Troubled Water but instead of offering to ease another's mind, Simon seeks release from his own stress.

You're The One doesn't have Hearts and Bones' depth and emotional heft or Graceland's novelty and transcendence but it combines an adult maturity with Simon's desire to still grow and try new things. After the not bad, but commercially unsuccessful, doo wop flavored Capeman experiment, Simon is back on comfortable ground. You're The One could have used a little more juice but it's filled with good, minimal, well made and very listenable songs.



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