Online since August 2002

No surprise: Simon still on top of his art

Reviewed May 2006

By Paul Simon

Warner Bros.: 2006

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

It should come as no surprise that Paul Simon's latest CD is essential to even the most limited collection of the singer/songwriter's amazing body of work. It goes perfectly next to "Graceland." And despite the age difference, it complements another favorite, "Still Crazy After All These Years."

Simon's "Surprise" showcases the classic rocker's familiar vocals and story-telling style, mingled with a sonic landscape by Brian Eno. Though at first listen a little distracting, the ambient rhythm soon seems a perfect accompaniment, proving once again Simon's ability to seamlessly adapt the sounds and styles of others to his unique talent.

Featuring consistent themes of love, home and family, many of the songs on "Surprise" read more like short stories than pop songs. "Beautiful" charms with a light melody and some sweet sentimentality, as does "That's Me." Academy Award-nominated "Father & Daughter," from the soundtrack from "The Wild Thornberry's Movie," and including vocals from Simon's daughter Adrian, is wonderfully endearing.

Politics and religion are represented as well. "How Can You Live in the Northeast?" and "Wartime Prayers" (featuring Herbie Hancock on piano) present the powerful melding of imagery and music that has come to be expected from Simon. There's pure pop, too, including the catchy "Outrageous" and "Sure Don't Feel Like Love."

Track after lyrical track, "Surprise" is Simon as strong as ever.

Review by Kathy Klassen. Kathy is a writer living in Escondido, Calif.

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