As tipped here last summer, Paul Simon will return next month with a new album, Seven Psalms, which was inspired by a vivid dream he had about the project on Jan. 15, 2019. Due May 19, the seven-part composition is meant to be listened to as one continuous piece and was “predominantly” performed by Simon, according to a statement.
“The dream was so strong that I got up and I wrote it down, but I had no idea what that meant,” Simon, 81, elaborates about the process in a new trailer, which also teases an upcoming Alex Gibney-directed film, In Restless Dreams. “Gradually, information would come. I would start to wake up two or three times a week between 3:30 and 5 in the morning, and words would come. I’d write them down and start to put them together.”
“This is a journey, for me, to complete,” he continues. “This whole piece is really an argument I’m having with myself about belief, or not.”
Seven Psalms was “recorded entirely on acoustic instruments” and features contributions from British vocal group VOCES8, Simon’s wife and fellow musician Edie Brickell, and engineer/musician Kyle Crusham. The cover art is a close-up of Two Owls, by artist Thomas Moran.
“I’m looking for the edge of what you can hear,” Simon further says of Seven Psalms, which will arrive on his own Owl Records imprint through Legacy Recordings/Sony Music Entertainment. “I can just about hear it but I can’t quite. That’s the thing I want. How do you get there? Sometimes you find it to make something that has magic.”
This is Simon’s first album of new material since 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. Two years later, he re-recorded 10 album tracks from his solo discography for In the Blue Light, which featured classical- and jazz-leaning musicians such as Bill Frisell, the National’s Bryce Dessner, Wynton Marsalis, and the ensemble yMusic.
Simon retired from touring in 2018 but continues to make occasional live appearances, including his first performance at the Newport Folk Festival last summer in Newport, R.I.
Here is the track list for Seven Psalms:
“Love Is Like a Braid”
“My Professional Opinion”
“Trail of Volcanoes”
“The Sacred Harp”