- • An Amazon.com Best Music of 2006 selection.
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The playful "Sure Don't Feel Like Love" argues Simon can still beckon his more traditional pop muse at will. Yet some of his best work here turns as much on hypnotic, if no less politically pointed, quasi-spoken word pieces (like "Wartime Prayers" and the gripping, post 9/11 rumination "How Can You Live in the Northeast?") as traditional songcraft. Eno is credited with providing "Sonic Landscape" to Simon's production, but also co-wrote three tracks, infusing "Another Galaxy" with contrasting doses of bracing energy and ethereal elegance, while seasoning the more traditional folk musings of "Once Upon a Time There Was An Ocean" with infectious electro-funk rhythms. "Outrageous," their best full collaboration, suggests that while Eno and Simon may approach world music - and indeed most pop forms - from polar extremes, the common ground they find is truly elevated. In an era when many of his peers are content to craft mere artistic comebacks, Simon's re-emergence here is a bold, compelling step forward. --Jerry McCulley
Top Customer Reviews
I popped in Suprise and was completely blown away. The master shines on this album of incredible stories intertwined within some of the best hooks I've heard in some time. Lyrically, this album is pure poetry. Examples:
A mother murmurs in twilight sleep
And draws her babies closer.
With hush-a-bies for sleepy eyes,
And kisses on the shoulder.
To drive away despair
She sends a wartime prayer.
It's a dead end job, and you gets tired of sittin'
And it's like a nicotine habit you're always thinking about quittin'
I could fill this review with meaningful lyrics from each tune - there isn't a bad song on the entire album.
Regardless of your age or musical leanings, I can't recommend this album highly enough. Good for mellow tunes while in the office, but don't miss the chance to crank this in your car or iPod. The musicans Simon surrounds himself with are the best in the business. Steve Gadd on drums? Nuff said.
One of the many beauties of art is that it lasts forever. At some point in the near or hopefully distant future, Paul Simon will be gone. We will all remember him for his innovative songwriting and harmonies with Mr. Garfunkel, but a new generation will hopefully bow down to him for the genius of Surprise.
Well...how wrong I was.
This album sounds fabulous. The soundscapes created by Eno as a backdrop to Simon's voice and guitar strumming are both inventive and graceful. It does not have the edginess of a Peter Gabriel or U2 and is seemingly just right. Simon's voice sounds marvellous and just having seen Bob Dylan in New Orleans and Neil Young on TV, I am thankful that at least one musical pioneer has survived vocally. Some of the falsettos he breaks into through the course of this album are just wonderful.
At the end of the day though, for me, Simon is defined not by the background music or the hummability of the overall album or the other peripheral characteristics but by the WORDS he writes. He is the best lyricist in modern music and while other legends such as Neil Young have gone all out on albums such as "Ohio" and "Living with War", Simon has always been more subtle. "Surprise" is NO different.
"Wartime Prayers" will be talked about for a few years to come as a truly defining song in modern music. Why? Because, unlike few other songs before it, it has combined sentiment, with fear, with anger and with sadness.Read more ›
Why? Contrast. Simon is one of the most convincingly human lyricist/songwriters I can think of.
It's not that he's thinking small. Here he tackles the stark realities of living in politically polarized and youth-obsessed America, a country at war where all the good things in life seem to get blurred.
But he just has a very human touch, focusing right in on flowers sitting on a windowsill rather than going crazy thinking about being old. At one point he even sings that he's "an ordinary player in the key of C," underscoring that he's not going out for bombast here. What you hear is what you get, tuneful melodies and lucid lyrics delivered in that slightly sly Simon way.
Then contrast that with the alternation blips and drones contained within Eno's "soundscape," and the humane man comes into contrast in 3D. Suddenly there's a person singing out within a confusing electronic forest -- a ghost in the machine.
It's not as spellbinding as "Graceland" or "Rhythm of the Saints," but it is a very well-thought out and heart-warming record that's worth much more than the vast majority of sludge marketed as pop music these days.
As usual, the songs can be compared to short stories, told in his unique style with minimal backing arrangements, just there to perfectly frame the storyteller's art.
"How Can You Live in the Northeast" asks simple questions about the meaning of life, while "Everything About It Is a Love Song" is an introspective on a life past. "Outrageous" is a rant about bothersome things, while "Sure Don't Feel Like Love" is more political. "Beautiful" is a track that takes you back to the old Simon & Garfunkel days, as does "Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean", two of the better songs on the album. The excellent "Father and Daughter" brings the album to a close with a moving tribute to the love that a man reserves for that special little girl in his life.
"There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you"
And so it goes, eleven tracks from the master, each longer than 3 minutes, about love, war, politics, and whatever else he chooses. A great album for any Simon fan.
Amanda Richards, May 10, 2006
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Eno listener reviewing a Paul Simon album. (I never thought I'd be doing that.) Actually, Simon impressed me on this CD for being occasionally rockier than I though he was capable... Read morePublished 2 months ago by frater SODDI
Is it me or does this disc only have one half decent song on it "Father and Daughter" ?Published 5 months ago by RL
Paul is losing a little of his, once, infamous creativity. Only liked one or two songs. The rest he can keep.Published 5 months ago by Bozo
Amazing album. Still essential Paul Simon, but continuing to develop as an artist and share the wisdom learned through the years, and hope for the future.Published 21 months ago by brother bill
Paul hasn't had a good album since Graceland and hasn't written a really good song since Obvious Child. This is soooooooo disappointing and soooooooooo BORING. Read morePublished 23 months ago by MJH