Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What

For more than four decades, Paul Simon has written songs that transcend generation and genre. Classics like "Mrs Robinson" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" have become part of life's playlist. Aretha Franklin (and Glee) covered the latter; 1990s pop-punk band the Lemonheads found success with the former.

Now 69 years old and an undisputed master of his craft, Simon blends his musical and lyrical gifts with musings on life, love and God on his first new album in five years. The album sounds just like him - bright guitars against a backdrop of world rhythms, reminiscent of "Graceland" or "Rhythm of the Saints" - and the lyrics make it the perfect soundtrack for an existential crisis.

Love is a theme throughout "So Beautiful", and Simon defines it on "Love is Eternal Sacred Light", an electric-guitar romp punctuated by harmonica, congas and cymbals: "Love is eternal sacred light/Free from the shackles of time. Evil is darkness, sight without sight/A demon that feeds on the mind."

Elvis Costello, who wrote the liner notes, says Simon is "a man in full possession of all his gifts looking at the comedy and beauty of life with clarity and the tenderness bought by time."

Simon concludes on the title track that "life is what you make of it/so beautiful or so what."