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Album review: Carly Simon's 'Never Been Gone'

October 26, 2009 |  7:06 pm
Carly_simon_240 Artists who re-record touchstone songs from their catalogs, as Carly Simon does on her latest full-length collection, take on the burden of coming up with something different enough to make that material newly relevant. Perhaps not surprisingly, her tour through her nearly four-decade catalog succeeds best when she mixes things up the most.

The opening reading of "The Right Thing to Do" is pleasant, but it seems eerily close to what the song might have sounded like in the hands of her ex, James Taylor -- the presence here of their musician son, Ben, could have something to do with that. Things pick up, however, with the vintage R&B groove of "It Happens Every Day," then deepen with a sophisticated treatment of "Boys in the Trees."

"You're So Vain" turns wistful rather than spiteful, while "You Belong to Me" is given a sultry Latin jazz arrangement, possibly an outgrowth of her Brazilian-tinged 2008 album "This Kind of Love." "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," is more melancholy than when she released it in 1971 thanks to simple finger-picked guitar backing sweetened with strings and flutes.

What Simon does here is flip through the musical photo album and talk honestly about what place those old memories hold in her life now.

-- Randy Lewis

Carly Simon

"Never Been Gone"
Iris Records
Three stars (Out of four)