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'In the Blue Light' review: Paul Simon beautifully updates some of his underappreciated songs

Paul Simon's new album

Paul Simon's new album "In the Blue Light" reinterprets songs from throughout his career. Credit: Legacy Records


In the Blue Light

BOTTOM LINE Giving beautiful new context to some underappreciated corners of his catalog

Just because Paul Simon is set to retire from touring later this month does not mean his creative well has run dry.

Simon’s new album, “In the Blue Light” (Legacy), reinterprets songs from throughout his career to create something new, something that reflects his current tastes while still standing the test of time. For the most part, the new versions are simpler and more elegant than the originals, whittled down to their essential beauty with help from jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis and Bill Frisell, as well as the chamber music ensemble yMusic.

Simon slows down “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor,” making it warmer and bluesier than the version from 1973’s “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.” “Can’t Run But” from “The Rhythm of the Saints” is also warmer — less icy Philip Glass minimalism and more energetic acoustic chamber music — thanks to a new arrangement from The National’s Bryce Dessner.

Marsalis turns “Pigs, Sheep and Wolves” — one of four songs reworked from “You’re the One” — into a New Orleans-styled party. Replacing the original’s dramatic bass line with a swinging horn section to spectacular effect, like most of “In the Blue Light.”

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