Still crazy after all these years.


Paul Simon
Stranger to Stranger
Concord Records

Paul Simon has had a long and storied career, spanning almost sixty years. In a lot of ways, Stranger to Stranger sums up his solo career, varying styles from his Graceland days to Rhythm of the Saints, and even back to his "There Goes Rhymin’ Simon" period.

The single from the new disc “Wristband” demonstrates Simon’s ability to stay current, even while in his seventies. Depicting both an overactive bouncer and the life of the less privileged, it has an almost chant-like chorus, as Simon does exactly what his range allows him to currently do. “Street Angel” is oddly interesting, while “The Werewolf” could have been a Graceland outtake.

“Cool Papa Bell” recalls the famous Negro League baseball player, but it also feels a bit lazy. “In a Parade” is reminiscent of his previous work, Rhythm of the Saints. “In the Garden of Edie” is an instrumental tribute to his wife, Edie Brickell. “The Riverbank” contains looped drums, and again shows Simon’s ability to stay relevant in the days of computerized music.

Stranger to Stranger may well be Simon’s swan song, given his recent comments about wanting to be done with the music industry. One hopes this isn’t the case, because he may well be the only performer over the age of 70 that is still making music this interesting.

Brian A. Smith