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Blessed with a beautifully ethereal voice, Art Garfunkel has suffered in his post-Paul Simon career because of a choice of songs and musical settings that mistake preciousness for subtlety. Happily, his new album remedies that problem. Nine of the 16 songs on Across America, which was recorded live last year, are Simon and Garfunkel classics, and the singer renders them with grace and a characteristically sublimated passion. If the album offers few new pleasures, hearing songs like "Scarborough Fair" and "Homeward Bound" in this context delivers the reassuring joy of running into old friends in a new place.

The title Across America refers to the walk across the country that Garfunkel completed during the course of 12 years, though it also derives meaning from the fact that these performances were recorded on Ellis Island. Beyond that, Garfunkel keeps his ambitions on this album aesthetic and personal. Small band arrangements, which include Michael Brecker's tenor saxophone and Eric Weissberg's guitar, mandolin and bass, provide sensitive support. Garfunkel's wife, Kim Cermak Garfunkel, sings background vocals, and his young son, James, coos his way through "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)." James Taylor duets with Garfunkel on a lovely reading of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "Crying in the Rain."

The high point, of course, is "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a song that Garfunkel has, uniquely in the Simon and Garfunkel canon, fully defined as his own. It's not just the high note at the end, which Garfunkel handles easefully. The song's themes of reconciliation and transcendence suit Garfunkel's soul and lend his gentle virtues as a singer all the virtue and dignity of conviction. (RS 762)

ANTHONY DECURTIS

Track Listing:

- A Heart In New York
- Crying In The Rain (Duet with James Taylor)
- Scarborough Fair
- A Poem On The Underground Wall
- I Only Have Eyes For You (not included on 1997 US release)
- Homeward Bound
- All I Know
- Bright Eyes
- El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Mrs. Robinson
- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
- I Will
- April Come She Will
- The Sound Of Silence
- Grateful
- Goodnight, My Love


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Details

Performer:  Art Garfunkel
Label:  Columbia
Genre:  Pop
Release Date:  May 21, 1997
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review by . December 21, 2008
posted in Music Matters
Art Garfunkel has always been one of my favorite solo artists. That is why I was absolutely flabbergasted to discover "Across America" at my local library.  For some strange reason, I was not even aware that this disc was ever released.  What makes that all the more remarkable is that my wife and I actually saw him in concert during his '96 summer tour when this "live" recording was made.  One can only conclude that this disc was not very widely promoted nor was …
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