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Paul Simon: You're The One

The mixed reception that greeted last year's Paul Simon/Bob Dylan co-headlining tour had a lot to do with the uneasy pairing of talents behind it. Dylan and Simon both rose out of the folk revival to have extraordinary, musically innovative careers, but the similarities end there. Dylan may be the one who sings with a voice that comes from you and me, to borrow Don McLean's phrase, but he's achieved almost mythic status over the years. The greatest part of Simon's appeal has always been that he seems like us. Of course, ordinary guys make mistakes, and waiting 10 years between proper solo albums surely counts as one. Releasing You're The One counts as another. Though not exactly a bad album, when contrasted to the remarkable Graceland and Rhythm Of The Saints, it sounds as arbitrary as a collection of B-sides. Muting his still-present African and South American influences, with You're The One Simon attempts a more personal and intimate set of songs, but his efforts don't connect, even on its best tracks. The first single, "Old," marries a great riff to a cloying lyric and the most unbearably affected singing of Simon's career. Elsewhere, "Darling Lorraine," in many respects a highlight, undermines a beautifully realized portrait of a marriage with a bit of melodrama only a few steps removed from Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey." After the solid title track, songs drift by without leaving much of an impression until the Orwellian political fable "Pigs, Sheep And Wolves," a grating, overwrought protest song on an album that's otherwise mellow to the point of distraction. From a more prolific artist, You're The One might seem a mere misstep, but after such a long wait it seems terribly anticlimactic. With luck, Simon will come back soon and stronger.


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