Don’t call him Al

<!– Link: Paul Simon

Paul Simon has long since stopped relying on immediate hooks to get his point across. Nosiree. He’s Paul Simon, after all. He’s been doing this songwriting thing for a while, and he’s an arteest, goshdarnit.

As such, Simon loves to tell lengthy, mouthy stories with lyrics that border on prose and melodies that contort to fit his wordy verses. But ever a master, Simon gives enough of a hummable chorus to invite listeners into his narratives.

Take that experience and multiply it by 11, and you have You’re the One.

Simon has toned down the pan-cosmopolitan experiments of the last 15 to 20 years in favor of a more minimalist, intimate sound. The African rhythms and guitar licks from Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints are still there, but they’re not the stars of this semi-unplugged show.

Nope. It’s pretty much Simon’s plaintive croon gliding over shimmering guitars and tastefully restrained percussion. Back in college, we’d call this “study music.” Don’t expect to enjoy this album if you put it on your stereo, then proceed to do household chores.

If anything, You’re the One demands the undivided attention of the listener. It’s hard enough to sing along with “Darling, Lorraine,” but its bittersweet story about a marriage gone lackluster makes for some touching listening. The pompously titled “Señorita with the Necklace of Tears” comes together when Simon chimes: “That’s the way it’s always been/And that’s the way I like/And that’s how I want it to be.”

On paper — or rather, pixels — that combination of Bruce Hornsby and K.C. and the Sunshine Band looks worse than it sounds.

You’re the One is also album that requires a few listens before its beauty seeps into your consciousness. Don’t buy this album if you suffer from attention deficit disorder whenever you hear music that lacks a backbeat. It requires patience and a bit of perserverance for this disc to win you over.