This is a beautiful set of songs, revisits to previous works, most noticeable for the pristine sweet vocal of Simon that anchors them all to a strong sense of the familiar, and the changes from the originals [those I could claim to recall/know well] where light orchestrations to jazz punches and jovialities adorn them.
Darling Lorraine is gorgeous, its plaintive narrative wrapped in guitar workings by Bill Frisell and Vincent Nguini. Opener One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor is a perfect gentle blues stomp, Simon’s vocal on a slight echo and another talking vocal response repeating, Wynton Marsalis’ jazzy surround buffing [as it also does rousingly on Pigs, Sheep and Wolves]. Can’t Run Yet introduces the first of the foregrounded orchestrations by yMusic – delightful dancing instrumentations: I can’t run but I can walk much faster than this from 1990’s The Rhythm of the Saints sounding now like a light-hearted commentary on ageing. With How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns, the nightclub jazz gives the songs its full reflective sense. The paean to doo wop and surrealist painters, René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War is the song most familiar to me on this album and it gets an orchestral sweep here like filmic nostalgia – gorgeous again; this is followed by The Teacher with fine saxophone spots by Joe Lovano.
A song most morphed to difference for these ears is the penultimate Some Folks Lives Roll Easy as it is immersed in a jazz bowl with rolling piano and saxophone strains swirling the mix, some mild discordant notes sending signals across the memorable melody we just hear – Simon’s singing the one powerful constant. Closer Questions for the Angels is a lusher version, continuing sublime.
The album is, as I write, being streamed here.