Paul Simon’s 2016 album, Stranger To Stranger, is now available to stream above, via Spotify.
The iconic New York singer-songwriter takes an unexpected turn with this new release by changing up his lyrical style. In contrast to his past albums, he takes a more conversational tone with some songs rambling through stories that only Simon could tell. For more background on the album, head to the Concord Music Group’s website for lyrics, liner notes written by Paul Simon, and album credits.
Stranger To Stranger was produced by Simon and Garfunkel’s previous producer, Roy Halee, who was actually convinced by Simon to work with him because it was something new and exciting. According to an interview with Drowned In Sound, Simon stated that Halee has “always been my favorite collaborator” and that he was “enticing him out of retirement.”
“He was bored, he was happy to have a chance to come back… to work with bells and overtones to color sounds, and to create echoes that were different to the echoes that were available through the technology.” Simon says.
But Simon wasn’t just reaching backward. He also collaborated with electronic dance and jazz musician Clap! Clap!, which shaped tracks like “The Werewolf” and “Wristband,” both having a West-African vibe.
The other track produced with Clap! Clap!, “Street Angel,” takes an electronic turn, and the liner notes reveal that the song includes “a combination of drum tracks from the end of ‘Cool Papa Bell’ and significantly slowed-down and backward recordings of gospel quartets from the late ‘30s.”
The 37-minute, 11-track LP gives us a taste of some softer tunes which balances out the groovy album such as “Proof Of Love,” “Insomniacs Lullaby,” and “The Garden in Edie” (an instrumental nod to his wife Edie Brickell). In addition to the singles released ahead of the album, “The Werewolf,” “Wristband,” and “Cool Papa Bell,” my favorite songs were “Stranger To Stranger,” “Proof Of Love,” and “The Riverbank.”
“The Riverbank” may be the most socially conscious track on the album. In the liner notes, Simon shared how the song came together:
“[The song’s] lyrics had their roots in a visit I made to Walter Reed hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to talk with some of the wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan who were rehabbing there. It was also inspired by my emotional experience playing at the funeral of one of the teachers who died in the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre.”
Most people would probably agree that Simon has made greater albums during the course of his 50+ year career. There are similarities in this LP to his South-African inspired 1986 LP Graceland, but the songs aren’t quite as captivating.
Overall, Stranger To Stranger is a worldly tale of love, war, sickness, and personal struggles. Simon is a one-of-a-kind artist that truly connects on multiple levels, and he continues to inspire us with his wisdom through music.
Stranger To Stranger is available on Amazon.
For Paul Simon’s latest music, news, and tour dates, check out his Zumic artist page.