The Best Albums of 2011: #2

Paul Simon: So Beautiful or So What

Someone forgot to tell Paul Simon that musicians his age aren’t capable of putting out great albums. After all, it is indeed a rare thing to see a man of Simon’s stature, still striving to put out great work; but that’s precisely what he’s done. In many ways, So Beautiful or So What is part three in a trilogy that began with the splendidly popular Graceland, followed by The Rhythm of the Saints, with So Beautiful striking a slightly different tone. Where the first two were influenced largely by music from other cultures, this latest offering is largely Americana, with mere sprinkles of world music. The lyrics often evoke thoughts of a man that has seen a lot, but still thinks about the world as it is today. And the music (at several points) is downright brilliant. Especially “Love and Hard Times,” which is undoubtedly one of his best, and alone puts So Beautiful or So What near the top of my list.

Select Cuts: The Afterlife, Dazzling Blue, Love & Hard Times, So Beautiful or So What

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