Review: SO BEAUTIFUL OR SO WHAT

by Jon Frazier

I know I listened to Paul Simon’s new album So Beautiful or So What.  And I can tell you three things.

  1. There was something about Christmas
  2. There was something about God
  3. There was a solo guitar track

That’s all I’ve got. If that sounds good to you, check out the new album. If not, check out Josh Ritter.

Ok, so, this is my third piece for Geek Force Five and I’m pretty proud of myself for not mentioning Josh Ritter so far. Josh Ritter is my go-to artist. If I’m not in the mood for Josh Ritter, I’m not in the mood for music. The guys is a genius — literally — he’s the son of two neuroscientists who was in school for neuroscience when he started his act: Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band. He has a classic, folk rock sound and is known to be one of the most talented upcoming American singer songwriters.

So what does this all have to do with Paul Simon? Well, the first time I mentioned Josh Ritter to a friend, his response was “Paul Simon called, he wants his sound back.” This would not be an inaccurate observation. Josh Ritter sounds something like…ok, ok, Simon and Garfunkel. But better, and as evidenced by So Beautiful or So What, Paul Simon has not done a good job hanging on to his sound. His once creative lyrics are now just abstract platitudes and his melody lines sound flattened.

The way I hear it, Josh Ritter has picked up Paul Simon’s discarded neglected sound, dusted it off, and made it shiny again. Check out Josh Ritter and let us know what you think, or comment below with thoughts on other classic artists who seem to have misplaced their sound.