Paul Simon drops new record on the masses 

Just like Springsteen — who suddenly releases a new album with almost zero advance notice — folk-pop maestro Paul Simon rarely telegraphs his punches.

And the man has been so busy with his charities — like The Children’s Health Fund, which he co-founded, and which has to date provided over two million doctor/patient visits to poor and indigent kids around the states — that folks might have forgotten all the songwriting genius he exhibited on classics like “Graceland.”

But from out of nowhere, he’s back with a stellar new album, “So Beautiful Or So What,” that’s coming out fast, April 12, through Hear Music/Concord.

And yes, Simon’s missus, Edie Brickell, makes a cameo.

But it’s his typically experimental show, as he incorporates genre-jumping sounds like tabla and clay pot (“Dazzling Blue”), kora, djembe and angklung (“Rewrite”), and even har, celeste and wind chimes (“Questions For The Angels”).

And as its recurring theme appears to be mortality, it makes perfect sense that its centerpiece, “Getting Ready For Christmas Day,” would feature an actual call-and-response sermon from the Rev. J.M. Gates and his congregation.

So it’s a surprise, but so what? Paul Simon is rocketing straight for a 2011 Renaissance.

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Tom Lanham

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