James1985, I've bought every Simon solo album. Every one of them. Live albums. too. I've REBOUGHT the remastered, bonus track ones that I already had. And this was after I had already had the vinyl ones. I'm a huge fan of Simon's. Yet, I'm continually disappointed.
SO BEAUTIFUL OR SO WHAT has a few good moments. "Getting Ready For Xmas Day" is great. And it can be played year round, not just at Xmas (but that's when I tend to play it). "The Afterlife" is another great one. I also like the instrumental, "Amulet." Other than that, it's just more of Simon stubbornly refusing to come back to his roots-- even just a tad-- as if he's embarrassed by all the Simon & Garfunkel stuff, his GREAT (and best) first solo album, etc. right up to GRACELAND. And, I am maybe a bit overly harsh on GRACELAND, too, but that's when he changed his style radically, which is fine...but he saw how well it was received-- both commercially and critically-- and he literally has REFUSED to change that formula since.
Yes, he did Brazilian music next, not West African, and yes he did a Broadway soundtrack album (that has a few good tunes on it, btw), but what he's done is purposely stayed away from his musical strengths. His lyrics are still great. His voice is still great. But, sorry, the exotic rhythms and textures all sound the same after awhile. It would be as if Paul latched on to his great song, "Mamunia," from BOTR, and decided to record album after album after album basically re-writing the same song in the same style over and over and over and over and over again. OK, I exaggerate, but it's to make a larger point.
So, that's my 37 cents worth on that.
in years to come/they may discover/what the air we breathe and the life we lead are all about/but it won't be soon enough for me