All of Paul Simon's solo albums ranked

Every Paul Simon solo record reviewed.
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No. 7 - SURPRISE (2006)

Surprise may be the most underrated album in Paul Simon’s discography. In these rankings, it comes smack dab in the middle, which means there were better albums both before and after. But it is good as a stand-alone project, and maybe even more important as a career turning point. It was something of a course correction after two of his weakest albums – Songs From the Capeman and You’re the One. If nothing else, it confirmed that Paul Simon was not going quietly into that good night.

The most remarkable aspect of Surprise was the fact that he turned to a new collaborator. Brian Eno, one of the forefathers of electronic music, worked with him on every track except for the final one. Right from the strong opener, “How Can You Live in the Northeast,” that influence is obvious. Eno’s soundscapes give a gentle song like “Everything About It is a Love Song” genuine life. “Outrageous” and “ Sure Don’t Feel Like Love” were about as funky as Simon would ever get, and they work beautifully.

Those electronic explorations can go a bit too far at times. “Another Galaxy” should have been reigned in. But for the most part, these songs rock while exploring issues of aging that would come to dominate much of Simon’s later work. He ends the album with a lovely song – “Father and Daughter” – which is a nod to some of earlier music. Eno may not have had any influence on that final number, but his influence would linger on future albums, even if he did not work with Simon again.