Staying relevant through time is something many artists struggle with. The solution to relevance for Paul Simon, half of the iconic duo Simon and Garfunkel, is trueness to the classics while adding new elements.
For an album containing variety without straying from classic sounds, look no further than Simon’s “In the Blue Light,” released Sept. 7.
“One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor” opens the album, showcasing both jazz and blues in an excellent preview of what is to come. It effectively brings together a variety of sounds not typically combined.
Other songs add more variety.
“Can’t Run But” uses violin and piccolo, along with a full instrumental section, to create a lively and staccato background to smooth vocals.
Other elements liven the album. Instrumentals in “the Teacher” suggest Spanish influence, and “Questions for the Angels” uses well-placed dissonants and constantly present piano to give a dreamlike impression.
“How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns” uses smooth jazz, particularly saxophone, to create a slow, calming feeling in the listener.
The vocals throughout “In the Blue Light” tend to be somewhat drawling, giving the impression of a narrator recounting past events. This is especially shown in Darling Lorraine, which lazily describes a past romance.
The album’s only downfall is its sometimes unrefined and repetitive lyrics. This is exemplified by “Pigs, Sheep, and Wolves,” which sounds crass and childish at some points, distracting from the flow of the song.
However, this is generally overshadowed by the instrumental strength of the album. Each song has full accompaniment that comes together to create a sense of completeness.
Overall, despite some flaws in lyrics and execution, “In the Blue Light” successfully creates a diverse album filled with both new and classic sounds.