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Album Review: Sounds Of Silence
Sounds Of Silence has the most songs I actually tolerate, but it's not my favorite. Still, this is a great album, with a lot of great stuff on it. This album and the next really capture what S&G were all about. To me, this is the album where we get to hear Paul spill the complete truth about the nature of life and humanity. There's young rebellion, there's questioning of social structures, there's quiet observation and social commentary, and there's love. It's S&G at their most classic, and Paul at his (young) best.

"The Sound Of Silence" isn't the original album cut from Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.; it's the "rockified" version that was released as a single with drums and electric guitar added. I prefer the earlier version, but either way, more than any other song, "The Sound Of Silence" captures the essence of S&G. It has everything we've comes to associate with their style, all the things that make the S&G spirit and sound what they are. "I Am A Rock" is another classic; everyone's been there. Just thought I should mention it, since it's one of the hallmarks of the album.

They didn't really do lovey-dovey songs very often, but "Kathy's Song" is a nice one. Some beautiful imagery in here; I like how the rain is carried all the way through, from "I hear the drizzle of the rain" at the beginning, all the way to the metaphor comparing the rain and himself in the last verse.

Two years later, side one of Bookends would take the idea of being thematic on an album to a whole new level, but there's a little bit of musical thematic consistency on this album, thanks to "Anji." Their only instrumental, and a song I happen to love, it's mellow and fun and a nice change. Part of the melody towards the middle of the piece is identical to that of another piece on the album, "We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'," and the first few measures are the same as those from the previous track, "Somewhere They Can't Find Me," another track worthy of note. In some ways, "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" is a sequel to "Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.," and in other ways, just a remake. A lot of the lyrics are similar, and in some spots they're even identical. It's a different take on the situation with a very different feel, focusing more on the escape ahead rather than the girl he's about to leave behind.

I was an English major in college, which means I get to rant at length about the American-poetry-inspired "Richard Cory." It's based on a poem of the same name written by Edwin Arlington Robinson, and to me, the song gives the poem more meaning. There's more going on here than one of Cory's peons wanting what Cory has materially. The song would have worked just fine, both musically and logically, had it cut off after the last verse and not gone into a final repeat of the chorus, but with that final chorus, I read it as the narrator saying that he'd like to put a bullet through his head too. Graphic? Maybe, but I think that's what Paul was trying to make us believe about the narrator.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. This is good stuff. Paul's writing matured later in their career, but this is S&G as they were after the heavy folk influence, but before they got too influenced by the other music of their era.

All reviews © 2000-03 Andrea L. Robinson.
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