April 2011

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15 fine tracks from 21ST Century Troubadours, including Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, Simone Felice, Villagers, Josh T Pearson, Hiss Golden Messenger and more

I was in Washington DC a few weeks ago to interview Paul Simon ahead of the release of his new album, So Beautiful Or So What. We ended up having quite a marathon conversation, Simon happy enough to cover all aspects of his career, in most instances at generous length. He had a lot to say, about everything. The new album is a reminder of his incredible contribution to the American songbook, decades of great work by now behind him, of which So Beautiful Or So What is another example. Simon & Garfunkel inclined, you’d have to say, towards a preppy wholesomeness and Simon therefore was never deemed especially hip in the manner of Dylan and others, but who could contest the genius of his songwriting, especially on albums like Bookends.

The new album comes at an interesting time for Simon, with a new generation of American bands rediscovering his music. Grizzly Bear, of course, appeared with Simon at his Brooklyn Academy Of Music shows in 2009, drummer Chris Bear contributes electric drum parts to So Beautiful Or So What and the band have memorably covered