Music Opinion

Paul Simon reigns glorious with 'Seven Psalms' surprise

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Singer-songwriter, 81-year-old Paul Simon, has released new music (Image by Matthew Straubmuller | Flickr)

At 81 years young, Paul Simon, formerly of revered duo Simon & Garfunkel, is back with yet another left turn in a career full of twists and surprises.

'SEVEN PSALMS' SURPRISE

Seven Psalms is his new “album”, but it is uploaded to streaming platforms as a single track: in seven parts (with two reprises of the opening song).

Simon’s dexterous fingerpicked guitar is ever present and is at the forefront of the mix, which is cushioned by layers of unusual instrumentation, including percussion, flute and a string quartet. It also includes vocals from his wife Edie Brickell.

Simon has never been above ruminating on the mystery of our existence. His train of existentialist thought turns this time towards spiritual belief and mortality.

This is truly an amazing piece of music, best experienced in one sitting from start to finish while paying full attention. It is a journey, a flow, a puzzle that unwraps itself over the course of just over half an hour.

GEORGIE WINCHESTER: BECOMING 'FRIENDS WITH THE FLIES'

Georgie Winchester is a musical polymath.

Originally from the upper hunter region of NSW just north of Maitland, now residing in Newcastle, she is an acoustic singer-songwriter in solo guise but is also the vocalist fronting a full-tilt indie rock band called Turpentine Babycino.

In whatever guise she is performing, Winchester is an artist who brings to the table a rare magic that makes her music special.

Her latest solo single, 'Friends With The Flies', features an interesting premise: based on some sage advice that “all your problems are (metaphorically speaking) like flies” and that you need to make peace with them in order to get through this crazy world.

It’s an unusual way to think about things, but symbolism many will get behind. This is a song to keep close to your heart.

HECTOR MORLET IS 'SO TIGHT IT HURTS'

Hector Morlet is a bedroom-pop producer from Perth in Western Australia who's been performing in bands since leaving school. Low-key no longer, Rolling Stone recently described Morlet as 'one of the brightest talents rising from Perth’s music scene'.

The multi-talented instrumentalist's most recent single, 'We’re So Tight It Hurts,' channels some Tame Impala-like falsetto vocals and some tight (no pun intended), funky, bass-driven electronic grooves which make this track stand out against everything else on the radio.

I don’t know what is in the air in WA, but the music scene is flying — hopefully, we'll hear more like this.

CHELSEA BERMAN TEARJERKER LEAVES... WELL, TEARS.

Based on the NSW Central Coast, one of the brightest young stars of country music is Chelsea Berman. Daughter of the owners of local surfwear brand DRØM, her parents are her biggest fans and supporters.

Berman is off to Nashville shortly (if she’s not already there!) to hopefully make a few music industry connections and write songs with local writers. But she leaves behind this spectacular little tearjerker for us at home.

Co-written with Melanie Dyer and produced in Sydney by Rhys Zacher, it is drenched in classic harmony vocals and features some dynamic volume leaps in the arrangement to keep your ears guessing where it’s heading next. Can’t wait to hear future songs.

SHAKESPEARS SISTER: A TRIP TO THE STRATOSPHERE

Thanks to the wonders of music-streaming platforms we all have access to the same music collection. That means rediscovering things missed before.

I recently took a trip back to the '90s for a closer look at an artist I have largely ignored. In 1992, when engrossed in all things grunge and (I thought) too cool to pay attention to the pop charts, I didn’t give Shakespears Sister the due they deserved.

'Stay' was inescapable back then — and I did my best to avoid it. However, this towering tune dropped into my speakers on an ominously cloudy afternoon in the car.

I had the volume turned up. When its middle section kicked in, weaving its way to the song's emotional climax, I thought the heavens would open up and swallow me whole. “Powerful” is an understatement.

If you don’t get chills at minute 2:55 when Marcella Detroit hits that ridiculously high note in the adlib right before the final chorus, you might want to check your pulse.

LISTEN TO THIS WEEKS SPECIALLY CURATED PLAYLIST BELOW:

David Kowalski is a writer, musician, educator, sound engineer and podcaster. His podcasts 'The Sound and the Fury Podcast' and 'Audio Cumulus' can be heard exclusively here. You can follow David on Twitter @sound_fury_pod.

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