TAS Rated 5/5 Music, 5/5 Sonics in the September 2023 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
Seven Psalms is Paul Simon's first album of original material in seven years, since 2016's Stranger to Stranger.
Recorded entirely on acoustic instruments, and predominantly performed by Paul, Seven Psalms showcases Simon's craft at its finest and most captivating, simply with his voice and guitar. Intended to be listened to as one continuous piece, the 33-minute, seven-movement composition transcends the concept of the "album".
A stunning, intricately layered work, it's a record which establishes an engaging and meditative, almost hymnal soundscape, with Paul's lyrics providing the gravitational center for constellations of sound woven from guitar strings and other acoustic instrumentation - including choral elements from the highly-regarded British vocal ensemble VOCES8, and a beautiful vocal appearance by Edie Brickell.
True to the origin of psalms as hymns meant to be sung rather than spoken, Seven Psalms reaches back to the very genesis of folk music: King David's Psalms. The result is a quietly moving musical experience which uncovers a wealth of subtle details with every repeated listen. A step apart from anything Paul Simon has released before, Seven Psalms defies categorization.
The record's tone is complemented by its artwork, which features a close-up extract of Two Owls by the celebrated landscape artist Thomas Moran.
At first, the record can seem like a tone poem, a meditation of mortality and spirituality, yet each subsequent listen reveals a moment of grace or insight that helps pull the entirety of the project into relief. In its still-life reflections, Seven Psalms doesn't play like a summation as much as an epilogue to a major artist's career, music that deepens appreciation for his lasting achievements, of which this mini-suite is certainly one.
Seven Psalms finds Simon steeped in mysticism and still searching.
- Vinyl LP
- Covert Artwork: Two Owls by Thomas Moran
- The Lord
- Love Is Like a Braid
- My Professional Opinion
- Your Forgiveness
- Trail of Volcanoes
- The Sacred Harp