Sunday, May 25, 2008

Carly Simon's "This Kind of Love" Examined

Carly Simon's evocative pose on the front cover of her new album is the physical manifestation of her flirtacious thoughts on love and life. After four decades of recording, she's sure to have something on her mind. Her newest outing and 21st album thus far, This Kind of Love is Simon's first project of original material since The Bedroom Tapes (2000).

Self-indulgence has sometimes plagued Simon's best work and as the 1990's closed that self-indulgence peaked on The Bedroom Tapes. Startingly flat, the lyrics wanted to paint stories, but felt half finished. Two covers records, Moonlight Serenade (2005) and Into White (2007), came before This Kind of Love. Any worried of a Bedroom Tapes repeat or that Simon may have dulled will be surprised with this album colored in light, playful Latin-jazz rhythms.

Headed by the legendary Jimmy Webb and Frank Filipetti, This Kind of Love benefits from loose song structures and Simon's spiced voice. The title track starts the record on an earthy-erotic tip, Simon's voice strums the words as easily as a finger would grace a guitar. "Island," written by Simon's son Ben Taylor, is quiet with interlocking vocals between mother and son over a lulling rhythm.

The samba element comes in silkily on the celebratory "Hola Soleil" (complete with a choir backed chorus), "Sangre Dolche" smolders, and the soul-lite stance of "So Many People to Love" is a winner. The latter finds Simon's voice sincere over the contemporary track without feeling forced like "People Say A Lot," which would've been at home on the previously mentioned Bedroom Tapes.

A mixture of musical and emotional moods make this Simon's best entry since Letters Never Sent (1994) or Film Noir (1998), versus the All Music Guide comparison to the underrated gem Spy (1979).

However, one can see how and why Spy would be mentioned. Love employs the same jazz elements of Simon's post-folk, general pop embrace that made her records sonically intriguing during her brazen 1975-1983 period. Now, Simon's a bit older at 62 and her sound is lived in (i.e.-Letters Never Sent) unlike the experimental flavor characterized on Spy. Either way, Love fits right where it needs to, proving Simon an experienced expert on love and all its intricate difficulties. Four out of five stars.-QH

[Editor's Note: Visit for more current information on Carly Simon.-QH]


S. Flemming said...

I really like her a lot. I was surprised by how her albums groove. "Another Passenger" in particular is one that I really enjoy. I may have to pick this up.

Anonymous said...

I bought this CD at Starbucks on clearance. Didn't even look at the song list when I purchased it cuz I love her style. What a wonderful, soulful surprise. I have several favorites on this CD. If you love Carly, you will love this.