User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 29
  2. Negative: 2 out of 29

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  1. Apr 12, 2011
    10
    Paul Simon's last album "Surprise" ended up being my favorite album of that decade. It was his best work since 1990's "Rhythm Of The Saints". "So Beautiful Or So What" is as great an album as that. This makes a two album run, from 2006-2011, by Simon that is on par with his "Bookends" & "Bridge Over Troubled Water) run with Simon & Garfunkel, from 1968-1970, or his "Hearts & Bones" toPaul Simon's last album "Surprise" ended up being my favorite album of that decade. It was his best work since 1990's "Rhythm Of The Saints". "So Beautiful Or So What" is as great an album as that. This makes a two album run, from 2006-2011, by Simon that is on par with his "Bookends" & "Bridge Over Troubled Water) run with Simon & Garfunkel, from 1968-1970, or his "Hearts & Bones" to "Graceland" to "Rhythm Of the Saints" solo run from 1983 to 1990. The album is as eclectic as Simon's best & most ambitious works. He & Phil Ramone have still given it a cohesive feel that is as sublime as they often are subtle. Though it comes from a different angle than the Brian Eno collaboration "Surprise" it is nearly as neo-Psychedelic again in the multi-layered depths of sonic thrills that always serve songwriting of the highest order. With these two albums I can safely say that there is simply no one, elder statesman, or newer artist, that is putting out work this challenging & yet accessible, and is as thrilling as it is nourishing. The rock critic Bill Flanagan quoted Elvis Costello, who wrote the liner notes for the album, as saying that this is the best album of the last 15 years. To that I'd add that I'm betting that this early on I've found what will most likely be my favorite album of this decade...that is unless...Paul Simon equals himself again before it's done. And having seen him in 2006, and judging by the recent live performances to promote the new album, he is also still a live force to be reckoned with. He's touring in small halls & clubs with a large band at reasonable prices. He's cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy & doesn't smoke either- all in the interest of keeping himself in top condition for recording & performing. Thanks Paul. My advice to anyone out there is to get this album & give it a chance, and do whatever you have to do to catch him on this tour. It's hard to believe that he'll turn 70 this October. With his life choices, and the vitality & magic of the music he's making he seems ageless, and as one marvels at the glorious results of his efforts, you have to wonder if he might not just be able to keep it going on indefinitely. BTW- he's mentioned that he's been recording with his wife Edie Brickell recently. One hopes a full album might come to fruition there, thus breaking yet more new ground for both of them. Check out the video of their duet working with Willie Nelson backing them on "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain". Collapse
  2. Apr 13, 2011
    9
    I can't believe my favorite album of 2011 so far was put out by a 69 year old. There's a couple songs on this album that I'm not huge on, but overall this is Simon's most solid record since Graceland. If you're a Paul Simon fan you won't be disappointed with So Beautiful or So What. If you're a fan of good music, you won't be either.
  3. Apr 16, 2011
    10
    I'm blown away. I loved the last album, "Surprise", and was concerned as to how he'd possibly follow it up. I needn't have worried. This is equally as stunning in a different manner. It's an album that is as subtle as is it is sublime. I'm going to be catching him live, two nights in a row & I hope we get to hear lots of songs from this album. I doubt I'll hear anything as stunning thisI'm blown away. I loved the last album, "Surprise", and was concerned as to how he'd possibly follow it up. I needn't have worried. This is equally as stunning in a different manner. It's an album that is as subtle as is it is sublime. I'm going to be catching him live, two nights in a row & I hope we get to hear lots of songs from this album. I doubt I'll hear anything as stunning this year, if not this decade. Expand
  4. May 24, 2011
    10
    Beautiful, understated, fun, lovable, and a true return to Graceland form. God Paul Simon really reminded me how much of a musical genius he is. This album is imminently repeatable and will go down as one of the best Paul Simon records.
  5. Jun 4, 2011
    10
    After the slight detour of 'Surprise', 'So beautiful' returns to core late Paul Simon sounds - bluesy-folky shuffles with tasteful African/Indian/South American elements incorporated. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man in his 70s there's a lot of pondering on death and the state of the world, but - belying the negative user review - it's done to some of his best melodies in the past thirtyAfter the slight detour of 'Surprise', 'So beautiful' returns to core late Paul Simon sounds - bluesy-folky shuffles with tasteful African/Indian/South American elements incorporated. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a man in his 70s there's a lot of pondering on death and the state of the world, but - belying the negative user review - it's done to some of his best melodies in the past thirty years. You would have to go back to 'Hearts and Bones' to find as good a group of songs (Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints are great albums, but it's the grace, style and groove that really sells them, rather than the songs). Like other reviewers, I thought 'Surprise' was a critically and popularly underrated triumph, but I think that this is better still..... It seems to be Paul Simon's fate to never quite gather the critical garlands of his peers (Dylan, Lennon etc.), but the consistent quality and innovation of his work over the past 40+ years takes some beating... And this is another example. To my ear, in its style and preoccupations it has a bit of the feel of Dylan's 'Oh Mercy', if that hadn't been so overwhelmed by Daniel Lanois' production. 'Oh Mercy' is an album I often return to even after twenty years and I think I'll be doing the same with this one as well. Expand
  6. Dec 30, 2011
    10
    Paul Simon's latest album is a surprise hit, no question about it. Not only is it his best creative effort in decades (if not, some of his most creative works in his vast discography), it proves that after being in the music industry for over 40 years, he still remains a highly relevant musician and song-writer in this day and age.
  7. May 13, 2011
    10
    Dealing with reflections over life, â
  8. May 19, 2011
    9
    As I've gotten older, I've often wondered what would happen to the surviving icons of my youth, which happily coincided one of the greatest explosions of creativity in the history of music, the Dylan- and Beatles-led pop/rock revolution of the 60's. Would they become nostalgia acts, like the doo-wop package tours that hit amusement parks and beachside venues every summer? Would theyAs I've gotten older, I've often wondered what would happen to the surviving icons of my youth, which happily coincided one of the greatest explosions of creativity in the history of music, the Dylan- and Beatles-led pop/rock revolution of the 60's. Would they become nostalgia acts, like the doo-wop package tours that hit amusement parks and beachside venues every summer? Would they becoming little more than diligent miners of their youth, continually re-working their old songs in modestly different styles: orchestral, acoustic, etc.? Some of his contemporaries have followed these paths, but if any see fit to emulate Paul Simon, now pushing 70 yet still creating music as vital and urgent as the work of his 20s and 30s, then we can still look forward to many wonderful things from his fellow aging Boomers.

    Simon's latest offering, typically long-in-the-making, does not stray far from his time-tested formula of gentle folk-rock spiced with influences from a global and ever-wider circle of musical influences. At his worst, Simon's songs can seem lazy and inconsequential, but at his best, as on every track of this new album, the music flows with effortless grace and the lyrics are full of wry wisdom. This is Simon's must sorrowful album, suffused with references to death, war, god, and the regrets, common to all human beings, that gather around personal failures. At the same time, there is a sense of peaceful (yet hard-won) acceptance of life's limitations ("It seems like our fate / To suffer and wait / For the knowledge that we seek"), while quietly savoring the sweet moments with good humor.

    In short, "So Beautiful Or So What" is the confident, contemplative work of an old master who has not become deaf to his muses, but is instead still using his art to make sense of the world and his own life. It is a great gift to anyone with ears to listen. May Simon continue to share his extraordinary musical talent and philosophical insights with us for many years to come, before he has to "stand in that line / Just to glimpse the Divine ..."
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Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. The worldy influence remains but never overwhelms and the album contains at least half a dozen songs that are as simple and profound as anything Simon has ever written.
  2. Jun 15, 2011
    100
    This album is a musical gumbo: a rich, surprising and ultimately satisfying stew of Simon's folk, rock and pop influences from all over the world.
  3. Jun 14, 2011
    60
    Sometimes Simon suffers from a sort of elder statesman's churlishness or cynicism (like a musical version of Grumpy Old Men), which is not entirely appealing, and some of the songs seem a little under-developed. There is, however, enough here to suggests that new Paul Simon albums should be bigger events.